What’s 4 Goals Against to a Team Like Me, Can You Please Remind Me?

Claus Andersen

The Pittsburgh Penguins again act like they don't really care about defense, but it again doesn't really matter as they end up winning 5-4 against the Maple Leafs in Toronto.

For me, it again goes back to what I told Pension Plan Puppets in the lead up to this game:

For better or worse, [the Penguins are] a team constructed to run and gun and try to win by out-scoring the opposition. They're comfortable with every game being a 5-4 game, because they feel like they have the offensive weapons to score more than their opponent. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Not to toot my own horn but (toot, toot), that's about exactly what happened tonight. The Pittsburgh Penguins don't really care about defense. Whether it's Marc-Andre Fleury or Tomas Vokoun in net, God bless 'em, because they're gonna get a lot of prime looks against them. Tonight was no different.

But, if not by design it sure looks like it, the Pens just think they can overcome whatever happens. And it's a lot easier if you build a lead, as the Pens did when James Neal scored less than a minute into the game. It was tied up but Pittsburgh seemingly easily took a 3-1 lead into intermission after Sidney Crosby and Beau Bennett added goals.

It shouldn't really look as easy as they make it, but that's the confidence and skill level that the Pens have. Easy come, easy go, as they'd fairly carelessly piss the lead away in the second period with Toronto goals against sandwiching a Pascal Dupuis marker.

The third period saw no goals, but Evgeni Malkin did take a thundering (and clean) hit from James van Riemsdyk. Malkin would not play in OT and would not be tapped in the shootout. Television announcers speculated about his shoulder, we'll see how he's able to respond later.

Speaking of the shootout, the Penguins have again made it look easy. Neal and Crosby scored goals, and Fleury stood up for himself, making two saves. Yawn. That's it, that's your game.

While it's always nice to take two points from a road game against a team that's in the playoff picture, the Pens general nonchalance towards defensive effort is concerning.

Still, a win is a win is a win....Is a win.

Some more thoughts on the game:
  • 2 assists, 30:23 played, +2, 4 shots on net (6 more blocked), 1 hit, 2 blocked shots, 5 (!!) giveaways. Just another night for Kris Letang. Norris candidate, Kris Letang.
  • Speaking of the giveaways- the Pens were rung up for 17 giveaways and the Leafs got charged with 24 giveaways. Woof, do they pay 'em by the stat up there? Also hits were a fairly surprising 41-28, in favor of the Leafs, which makes one wonder what exactly the statisticians up there were watching. Not sayin, just sayin.
  • The Pens had 41 shots on goal, with 77 total shot attempts. Know how you get away with giving up 4 goals in a game on the road? Throw a ton of rubber at the other guys' net.
  • The evolution of Beau: Beau Bennett had a career high in shots (4), an assist (for a three game point streak), was a +3 on the night, and played his second highest amount of ice-time all season (14:31). For a team desperate to find a top six forward, Bennett just might be that man.
  • 22 saves on 26 shots for Fleury tonight. Not great, but with the team in front of him not really seeming to care about allowing primo chances against, it's hard to be too critical. MAF was solid in the shootout, turning both shots away to help the team get the extra point.
  • Big question about Malkin's status going forward. He got rocked and didn't retrun. Hopefully nothing is too messed up, but he didn't play in OT and wasn't tapped for the shootout. Kinda concerning.

At the end of the day, the Pens are lucky to get out of town with 2 points. Which is sad since they had a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period. But they don't ask "how", they ask "how many". And though Pittsburgh continued a lot of bad habits and general defensive malaise, a win is a win, is a win.

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