Some quick observations and notes off the Pens’ 2-1 home win over Ottawa in Game 1 of the EQF on Friday night:
— G Marc-Andre Fleury deserves a lot better than a sellout crowd at Mellon Arena sent his way early in Game 2 after his first save. Yes, Fleury started the series stopping just 16 of 22 shots. However, he also has made 19 straight saves to close an oft-pivotal Game 2 — teams that win it are well over 70 percent in series victories. D Brooks Orpik said he “didn’t understand” the mock-cheering from Fleury’s home fans. Neither do I. Performances like from Penguins fans are the reason I often wonder how the Penguins once called them “the best fans in hockey.”
— C Sidney Crosby won 13 of 19 faceoffs, including his last seven. He went 11 for 22 in Game 1. Yeah, Crosby is crazy competitive. I get that. How about some love for C Evgeni Malkin, not often referred to as, uh, interested when in the faceoff circle. He went 7 for 12 in Game 2.
— Orpik dished out nine hits, setting a tone for 52 from the Penguins. I’m real close to dubbing him “G.I. ‘O’: The Penguins’ American Hero.” Thoughts?
— Speaking of fine Americans, C Mike Rupp landed four hits in under seven minutes. Efficiency is a beautiful thing. Just think what Rupp might do when presented with early-morning coffee from Tim Horton’s in Ottawa — a favorite spot for him and me in Canada’s capital city.
— Reason the Penguins agreed to pay D Kris Letang $14 million over the next four seasons: In his club’s biggest game of the season, Letang attempted eight shots — yeah, he connected with only three, but those attempts indicate a willingness to accept responsibility to contribute offensively — and blocked four shots, plus he delivered five hits. Oh, and a winning goal.
— OK, dear readers who kept reading past my Fleury rant, the lovely drive to Ottawa for Games 3 and 4 begins Saturday afternoon. Joy! If any of yinz are heading up, drop me a note with your story — pictures welcome, so long as they are PG — at firstname.lastname@example.org.