No shortage of things to talk about after the Penguins and Bruins game today. We have the choice to start Matt Murray instead of Tristan Jarry and then giving up three quick goals. We obviously had no shortage of animosity between the two teams which was facilitated by poor officiating. Crosby was doing more cool things. Jack Johnson was awful and scored a good goal. Malkin threw a body check for possession instead letting emotions take over in a game where emotions took over and it led to game winning goal. Both Dominiks left the game with an injury. Brad Marchand did Brad Marchand things.
Where to start? I guess from the beginning. Matt Murray had a rough start allowing three goals in the first period. His teammates had a lot to do with it leaving him out to dry immediately after the opening faceoff. It looked grim and the choice to start Murray instead of Jarry looked suspect. Personally, I think it was the right decision whether or not it worked (it did). Here are the save percentages for each goalie’s last four games heading into today:
And now .919
This was a natural spot in the schedule (not a back to back) to give Murray a chance to earn his spot back in consecutive starts. Given how Murray was playing in his most recent work I like the choice and it ultimately worked even with the horrid start. Murray finishing the game with a .919 save percentage was pretty remarkable. He had to because the Penguins were out attempted at 5v5 63-35.
The Bruins were the better team today which isn’t surprising given the Penguins missing Dumoulin, Guentzel, and then both Dominik Kahun and Dominik Simon.
In today’s youth hockey corner we are going to feature Jack Johnson, as is tradition. He is a big reason the Penguins were scored on right after the opening face off. Kids you can’t blindly bail on your positioning and lose track of what is behind you. This is very problematic when the player behind you is one of the best players in the league.
Also kids don’t try and score on your own net. It is always better to shoot at the opposing net.
Now maybe Johnson was practicing his finishing skills because he did score a big goal later in the game. It was his first ever shorthanded goal and it was the tying goal. He read the play well and joined the rush knowing he would beat any potential backchecker to the high slot. Brandon Tanev showed good patience and Johnson laid into a quality slap shot.
Brad Marchand is an excellent player, but he’s also the definition of a rat. There were two situations where he low bridged Letang. The first time
I think it is a terrible play, but I don’t know what you can do about it if the officials aren’t going to view it as a trip. Fighting Marchand is definitely not going to change anything. He is not going to change who he is no matter what the players on other teams do. The only way to change him is to take his money, suspend him games, and take him off the ice with penalties.
The second time he low bridged Letang and it was Letang who earned an elbow. I’m all about the hitter being responsible and having the onus on them, but when you low bridge like Marchand I don’t consider it a part of that mantra. If you intentionally drop your head to the guy’s waist level because you are trying to scum them I don’t have any sympathy for the outcome. In this instance the referees rewarded Marchand for his sketchy and dangerous behavior
This was par for the course on a day where the officials were horrendous for every player on the ice. They set the table for multiple scrums and players chasing hits to harm all day long. They watched obvious penalties in front of them and let it go. It is embarrassing to watch professionals be so bad at their jobs. They created an environment where a lot worse could have gone wrong and I think it was lucky things didn’t.
Which makes it amazing that Evgeni Malkin of all people wasn’t guilty of chasing a bad hit. He gave a text book body check for possession and combined it with his elite passing skills and awareness and it led to yet another Bryan Rust goal for the game winner.
I’m going to end with Sidney Crosby who has been awesome since coming back. The entertainment value of watching the Penguins is night and day when both Crosby and Malkin are in the lineup versus when one or both are out. It is an obvious statement, but none the less true. Here is some #SidDownLow action from today
He’s the best in the business and probably the best of all time working with only Jaromir Jagr being in the conversation as well. He wasn’t done.
Sid is going to get all the credit he deserves for this play. I would also like to highlight Teddy Blueger’s clever and natural finish on the play. A lot of players would just mash the puck and hope it found an opening. Blueger had the poise to shake a move and assertively finish it upstairs with Halak on the wrong side of the net.
This was a great win against a great team even though the Penguins were outmatched and down 3-0 before they knew what was going on. The playoff format is incredibly dumb, but at least the Penguins don’t have to see the Bruins before the Eastern Conference Finals. They are probably the worst matchup for Pittsburgh, no offense to Washington.
Thanks for reading!