There was a general vibe of skepticism among Penguins fans earlier today when the Penguins announced Matt Cooke would be on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Plenty of talk regarding Michel Therrien's ADD when it comes to line combinations - some (myself included) dubbed it a lack of patience.
None of us could've predicted it would work so well.
Well, it did, so believe it. It wasn't exactly what you'd call lights-out hockey, but for the first game with Cooke on the top line it definitely produced and showed more promise than any of the other combinations Therrien has tossed out there this season. Give it a few more games and they just might start looking like a real hockey team again.
But for the time being, let's not overlook this win over the Flyers.
You know, the Atlantic Divisions 'best' team, winners of eight straight at home and Pittsburgh's most hated rival? Those Flyers.
So much for Philly having the home-ice advantage on Pitt this season. The Penguins looked like the team we all know they are capable of being out there tonight. They were hitting, shooting, passing tape-to-tape and finding the back of the net - four times in fact. They played a well-disciplined game and out-muscled the Flyers in the corners.
Although Philly jumped out to a quick lead on a freak bounce in the first, the Penguins managed to rally back with four straight goals to take a commanding lead. And what did they do when they got the lead? They held it. Yes, the Penguins held the lead.
There are a few extra things worth looking at tonight that I feel really contributed to the Penguins' win. Feel free to argue with and/or toss in your own two cents. Always appreciated.
Pitt launched 11 shots on goal in both the first and second period. Heading into the third up 4-1 they didn't necessarily choose to sit back on the lead but they did play an excellent trap that prevented Philly from breaking out with any sort of attack. So even though the Pens only mounted four shots in the third, that's all they needed in a period designed for puck and neutral zone control.
Tomorrow the Pens play at home against the Capitals, The Sid/Malkin vs Ovechkin hype will be in full force. Coming off a win like this over the division's top team will hopefully carry over.
Wait, there's something I'm forgetting. What was it?
Oh yeah, I remember now:
The Flyers always play up against the Penguins, who are clearly the team they like least. Playing up against a team that's playing so down pretty much guarantees victory.Flyers Frequent preview
The good: Crosby picked up two assists
The better: Excellent discipline out there. Stay out of the box and limit PP chances
The best: Line 1 - Cooke, Crosby, Malkin. Therrien: Don't...touch...a...thing
The ironic: Scott Hartnell dives. Too funny. That and the "Crosby sucks" chant with one minute remaining in the game. How did Richards do by the way?
Next game: Wednesday. Capitals. 7:30.