Some thoughts from the Pens’ 3-4 win at Boston on Saturday afternoon – a win that, after which, the majority of players couldn’t wait to get on a charter plane for Pittsburgh. As one was heard telling FSN Pittsburgh’s Dan Potash, “We have a football game to watch.”
(Oh, by the way: As a result of that football game’s result, this hockey beat boy is headed to Foxboro on Sunday afternoon to cover his first NFL game since Super Bowl XL at Detroit. Anyway, back to pucks…)
= The bizarre double-minor for high-sticking assessed to RW PASCAL DUPUIS will be addressed in my print notebook on Sunday, but there were no shortage of his teammates who expressed shocked that Dupuis was penalized. Clearly, Bruins D ZDENO CHARA unintentionally clipped teammate D STEVEN KAMPFER, who didn’t finish the game.
“I think it might have been my stick that got him,” Chara said. “I’m not 100 percent sure, but obviously it was a battle and then my stick got high and hit Stevey. It was just an unfortunate play.”
It forced the Bruins to finish with five defensemen, never an easy task – though, with 20 third-period shots, the Bruins held their own.
Penguins C JORDAN STAAL on the call: “The ref came back and admitted he made a mistake.”
Predictably, the Penguins were brilliant on that four-minute penalty kill. There are games, more than less, during which the opposing power play doesn’t seem to have a chance.
(Side note: Chara looks a lot like Darth Vader when the Bs wear those alternate threads, at least from high atop media-area row at TD Garden.)
= Dupuis, for what it’s worth, scored his ninth goal in the second period – but he was robbed in the first period by a great glove save from Bruins G TUUKKA RASK and Dupuis also clanked a shot off a post in the third. Perhaps that is a sign he is about to get hot, as he did in the second half last season on his way to 19 goals.
Here is something to debate, dear readers: If Dupuis and LW CHRIS KUNITZ, who has 15 goals, combine for 35 goals on the season, would that total be enough production to generate faith in the Penguins’ top line wingers going into the Stanley Cup playoffs?
= Something I don’t really know how to address is C EVGENI MALKIN’S goal-scoring struggles. He hasn’t marked in five games, and he has scored a goal in only two of 12. He is playing hard, and he is shooting the puck with 42 shots over those 12 games. His shot does seem to be missing something in terms of speed and placement, at least when compared to two seasons ago.
Right now, though perhaps not all season, Malkin just seems to be having bad luck. These past two games (at Montreal and at Boston) he has been stopped on several quality chances. I may be setting myself up, but I feel like Malkin is about to break out in a big way.
Something else to consider: Would a second-line of Kunitz-Staal-Malkin actually be the Penguins’ best bet going forward if GM RAY SHERO can find a winger at the deadline to play with C SIDNEY CROSBY? Kunitz and Staal are great together, maybe even better than Kunitz and Crosby. Also, at this point, shouldn’t getting Malkin going the priority? Crosby has proven he doesn’t need a lot of help to be the best player in hockey.
= Nobody has told me this officially, but I am starting to have doubts that Crosby will play in the All-Star Game at Carolina in two weekends. He might not be concussed by then, but I could see an argument to be made for him staying out just to play it safe. He’s only played in one ASG, by the way.
= Speaking of concussions, oft-concussed Bruins C MARC SAVARD admitted he felt “a little woozy” after being hit hard late in the third period. He said he “hadn’t gotten a headache yet or anything like that.” This guy has to have answered more questions about head injuries than any player in NHL history.
= Penguins G MARC-ANDRE FLEURY on facing 46 shots: “It was fun.” Also fun (for this accused Fleury defender, anyway), watching him silence all critics the last two months. Since Nov. 15 there hasn’t been a better No. 1 goalie in the NHL, folks. The stats are there for dear readers in my Sunday game story, but just watch Fleury right now. He’s controlling the pace of play. That is the sign of a goalie atop his game.
OK, that’s a wrap for me. I need to read up on a couple of football teams that apparently don’t like one another – or one doesn’t like the other, with the other not really being all that concerned with the one… or, uh, something like that.