Some postgame thoughts and observations following the Penguins’ 5-3 victory in Game 4 of their second-round series against the Washington Capitals:
The Trib Tricksters:
1-LW Ruslan Fedotenko, Penguins. His Game 4 performance (1 G, 2 PTS) was better than his Game 3, which is saying something.
2-C Sidney Crosby, Penguins. Scored his fifth goal of the series, and it was a winner.
3-D Rob Scuderi, Penguins. Two assists, but his defensive work against Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin was stellar for a second consecutive game.
SARGE STUFF: Penguins D Sergei Gonchar’s lower-body injury – likely a right knee after his first-period collision with Ovechkin – did not prevent him from accompanying the Penguins on their charter flight after Game 4 to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday night. Gonchar is very unlikely to play in Game 5, and several persons close to him believe he could miss at least a month – though the Penguins have neither disclosed a status of his injury or a recovery time period.
As of this post – around 1 a.m. Saturday – the Penguins had not recalled a player from AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The likely player to get that call is D Alex Goligoski, who coach Dan Bylsma knows well from his days as an assistant and head coach with the minor-league Penguins.
JOSE AND THE CAPS: Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau did not say rookie G Simeon Varlamov was responsible for the 5-3 loss in Game 4, but he did say Varlamov allowed four soft goals – and there is speculation among the Washington media that Boudreau will turn toward former starter Jose Theodore in Game 5.
Varlamov’s poor conditioning often leaves him unable to practice the day after a game, and his lack of experience in NHL games on back-to-back nights is not encouraging for a Capitals club that needs a win in Game 5 to avoid facing an elimination Game 6 at Mellon Arena on Monday.
SATAN BE GOODE: All Penguins fans should feel good for RW Miroslav Satan, whose sweet pass set up Crosby’s Game 4 winner. Satan has not scored in four playoff games, but he’s filled his role – albeit a limited one – quite effectively.
Satan was never going to score 40 goals, as many fans wrongly presumed after he signed in July 2008 as a free agent. However, GM Ray Shero lauded his professional handling of an AHL salary-cap demotion after the March 4 trade deadline, and as somebody in the Penguins’ dressing room almost daily, I can attest to his professional attitude all season – one he probably won’t consider among his favorite, but one that still has a chance to end on a positive note.
A NUMBER THAT SHOULD INTEREST YOU: The Penguins are 7-0 all-time in Game 5s of playoff series against the Capitals, including 3-0 at Washington. So, count it.
QUESTION FOR YINZ: No doubt, all dear readers have an opinion on the Ovechkin hit on Gonchar from Game 4. So, dear reader, I ask you: How should the NHL discipline Ovechkin, who was penalized only for a tripping minor and spoke in a contrite manner following Game 4?
Send your thoughts via e-mail.