Good morning one and all, to the last week of the regular season!
In the absence of Crosby, Kunitz, Orpik, Maatta, and another half-dozen guys, Brandon Sutter and Marc-Andre Fleury did show up to help notch a shootout win.
In what was possibly his best game in the Pens uniform, Sutter asserted himself as the key contributor who will be heavily relied upon to lead this team in the playoffs.
Crosby was missing due to an "upper body injury", which I wasn't able to track down to anything specific. I daresay it's probably just bumps and bruises, although he was cited as wanting to finally clock in an 82-game season.
Patrick Roy didn't mind one bit that the Pens rested a couple of the regulars and called up more help from the minors. At 506 man-games lost to injury, it's basically a miracle we took 2 of 3 on this road trip.
The Pens played a terrific all-around game. Whether spurred by embarrassment stemming from that ugly Saturday loss in Minnesota, or just new guys hungry to contribute, they had the Avs on their heels for the longest stretches.
Nate MacKinnon is going to win the Calder Trophy after being picked #1 and posting a Crosby-esque rookie season. Crosby, of course, neither made the playoffs nor won the Calder that first year, but MacKinnon will have to keep it up if the Avs are to survive the Blackhawks in the first round.
Who will win the Jack Adams Award? Despite the bazillion man-games lost and his team still locked into the #2 spot, it's doubtful that Dan Bylsma will even be a finalist. It will probably come down to Patrick Roy, Mike Babcock, and if there's any justice in the world, Jon Cooper.
James Neal sees the playoffs as his second chance, an opportunity to redeem what most will see as a season in which people talked more about his cheap shots than his unbelievable skill.
Meet Reid McNeill who has emerged as a top-4 defenseman for the WB/S Penguins due to the many players called up to fill holes in the big club.
Zac Rinaldo will have a hearing today for a hit to the head of Buffalo's Chad Ruhwedel, for which he received a match penalty.
Of all the inflated contracts signed after the latest CBA was reached and therefore ineligible for a compliance buyout, David Clarkson's 7-year $36.75M deal stands tall. Word is they may buy him out anyway.
Closing with the list of the most unlikely NHL playoff upsets over the last 5 years. Exactly the one I thought was #1 is at the top. Damn Halak.