Islanders Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
The Penguins will be hard-pressed to put up a lot of goals against any team at this point. Given injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the team's "best player" can easily change from game to game. It's not a matter of which guy leads the team or league in points. It comes down to which guy or guys stand out on any given night as the best players on the ice.
Tuesday against the Islanders, you can make your case for practically any of the guys on the offensive side of the puck, with obvious considerations going to the game's lone goal scorer, Craig Adams. But few can argue that in a close-knit game with two points on the line before the All-Star break, none played a better game than Marc-Andre Fleury.
We've seen a number of games this season where Fleury just missed tallying a shutout. On nine separate occasions this season, Fleury has given up just one goal in any of his starts (and once when he came in to relieve an injured Brent Johnson against the Panthers). That's not to say he was about ready to pick up a shutout in all nine of those games, but it does stand as some sort of evidence as to just how close he has come thanks to his solid play. Tonight was no exception, as he stopped all 29 of New York's shots and completely robbed Frans Nielsen of a sure goal in the first period.
Was the game another snooze fest? Yes and no. Yes, because that's to be expected when a scoreless tie heads into the third period. No, because the Pens had a number of opportunities throughout the game but failed to capitalize on all but one. And even when the bounces weren't exactly going their way, Islanders netminder Kevin Poulin, in just his seventh NHL game, made it difficult for the Pens to get anything going. With the rotating door that is Islanders goaltenders, it's hard to say where Poulin sits in terms of the rotation. I can honestly say I've only heard his name thrown around a few times before this game. Regardless, I'm keeping tabs on him for however long he sticks around. Solid game by the 20-year-old.
And let's face it - if Craig Adams is going to get a goal, the Pens better win that game. Adams' right place at the right time produced a solid opportunity that ultimately lit the lamp on the sort of goal you'd expect to see when Adams, Asham and Jeffrey are out there. But a goal's a goal, and one is all Fleury needed.
With that the Pens will now rest for a few days with respect to the All-Star Game. Fleury and Letang will no doubt head off to Carolina to rep the Pens, but hopefully the rest of the boys, including the two currently on the shelf, use this down time to for a little R&R.
The break couldn't come fast enough.