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Some thoughts and news and notes around the Pittsburgh Penguins the morning after their series win against the Washington Capitals including thoughts on the stars scoring, increased depth, Brian Dumoulin and of course the goalie debate of Murray vs. Fleury

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

One more day to reflect back on the Washington Capitals series before looking forward to what's ahead with the Tampa Bay Lightning, so let's get to it.


Goals in the Pens/Cap series were 16 to 15. 3 of the 6 games went to overtime. Such a close matchup, and tightly contested. From Game 2-6 Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov an T.J. Oshie all combined to score just 2 even strength goals.

The most surprising thing this morning is this didn't go to 7 games. These teams could play a best-of-15 and it might take all 15. The Penguins earned a lot of their luck and deserved the victory (in many ways, they got some bad bounces just to keep the game alive so long) but so it goes. Hockey's a crazy game.


You could live a long life (and I hope you do) and never see a sequence like this again (and I hope you don't)


Just ponderous. 3 puck over the glass calls in 2:02. The worst rule in hockey almost bit the Penguins big time, being as it put the best power play in the game at work for such extended 5v3 looks.


Speed and depth are beautiful things and another kudos to the acquisitions that Jim Rutherford has made. It's no coincidence that all 3 of the goal scorers last night: Phil Kessel, Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino have all been acquired in the last 12 months. The Penguins needed and received a massive overhaul.

CBS's Adam Gretz had a really good rant yesterday on twitter:

The rest, I'll just copy and paste, but certainly follow him if you're not already:

Superstars are not consistent in their production. They are streaky. "But they are paid to score!"

Yes. They are paid to score. But they are not paid to score on a schedule. They are not expected to score every night.

They are paid because they are capable of going on stretches where they score 6 goals in 3 games or get 10 points in 4 games.

When they score like that (and every single one of them does), that leaves a lot of time where they get ... nothing.

That player will impact more games and win more games for a team than a player that consistently scores one goal every four or five games.

This isn't about one player. This is just in general. Look at John Tavares and his postseason this year.

He carried the Islanders through the first round.

Then everything dried up in round two. He didn't suddenly forgot how to play, how to score, or suddenly start playing like crap.

It's a bigger statement on the NHL as a whole than any individual player.

Sidney Crosby only had 2 assists in the Capitals series, Malkin a goal (in Game 1) and an assist. These guys will need to produce more points in the future, but guess what - they're the best players in the game (and the best active playoff point scorers to boot), not a stretch to know those guys will get hot sooner or later if their depth players can prop them up and earn wins when the stars aren't filling the net.

Because Gretz is right at the end of his rant- this is how the league works. Power plays go down in the playoffs, defenders key in big-time on the top players. Goalies get better. It would be great if Crosby and Malkin could chip in a regular 1 point per game, each and every night but that's just not reality. The key in this day and age is how a team surrounds their stars, and from the chart above the Pens seem to have this figured out better than ever before.


Long playoff runs are always fun to watch young players grow and develop before your eyes. Kris Letang really "came of age" or whatever the cliche is in the 2008 and especially 2009 runs.

It's fun watching Brian Dumoulin do that now. He doesn't have Letang's peak as a potential Norris candidate, but in about a year's time Dumoulin has gone from high-sheltered, low-minute 3rd pair guy to as solid and indispensable a player as there is in the Pens lineup.

And, though banged up and unsteady this season, it was great to see Hagelin's tip-in goal come from the stick of Olli Maatta. If Maatta can provide more than he was and also settle into a top-4 role, the Pens become all the harder to defeat in a playoff series.


Now would probably be time to start the age old Matt Murray vs. Marc-Andre Fleury debate given the reset of a couple day's break and a new series.

But, really, there's still not much to debate. Murray is 7-1-1 in these playoffs, a sterling .935 save % and has played better in his net than Henrik Lundqvist and then Braden Holtby did in their respective nets.

This has nothing to do with Fleury, everything to do with the level of play that Murray has provided. He's been stable, calm, cool and has kept the puck out of the net. It's nice to have a healthy Fleury in the back pocket in case Murray suddenly stumbles, but from what we've seen in his career it seems like that is unlikely.

The main point of stirring a goalie debate would be for those with other interests (i.e. media members who like to make themselves the story, or national outlets looking for more page views). There's really no controversy, no insult to Fleury and there's no good reason to turn away from a goalie playing as well as Murray is right now. Pretty cut and dry, simple stuff.


Some issues worth debating going forward? Ian Cole and Ben Lovejoy are dressed to kill penalties, but Cole is taking them far too often and neither are having much success clearing the puck. Will the Pens look to play younger, better puck-movers in Derrick Pouliot and/or Justin Schultz? Or are they going to hitch their wagons to the experience and perceived steadiness that they hope Cole and Lovejoy will supply.

Malkin's wingers are horribly miscast right now too, but there's no alternative right now than to hope they can make the most of it. Conor Sheary was pretty quiet in the Caps series too, but stylistically playing against a team like Tampa seems like a much better matchup for a player like Sheary to find more open-ice and hopefully create more.