- As you know after last game's weak performnce and a slew of bad games this season, Ryan Whitney was challenged by his coach. Some media types in Pittsburgh whined about this, said Michel Therrien's strong words would shatter Whitney's confidence and cause a divided between players and coach. Whitney, for his part, told the morning papers that the Coach was basically right and he needed to up his game. And as a response Whitney comes out and has his best offensive game. He wasn't physical or aggressive in his own zone as Therrien had wished, but dude's not going to turn into Chris Pronger over night. Whitney was forceful and did his job. That's all you need.
- Speaking of being more forceful, Kris Letang made a public statement about getting the puck on net more. He did and got the unassisted G-Dub with under 4 minutes left in the game.
- It wasn't a good start though. Ty Conklin got stranded from his net and was hesitant to play the puck, as it was sliding into the penalty zone behind the goal-line. He who hesitates gets left out of position as the Islanders quickly took advantage and made him look like the Oilers' Conklin circa 2005 and not the Pens "Conkblock" of 2008. Credit Conklin though, after a horrible gaffe he settled in and turned out a good performance for the win. Again, that's all you can ask.
- Evgeni Malkin had 3 assists on the night, figuring in the first three Pens goal. The first one was just pure puck movement, the powerplay unit featuring Gonchar/Sykora/Malkin/Malone is clicking very well and making some dandy plays out there.
- Geno's second assist of the nigt, believe it or not was a result of a faceoff win; Malkin continues to struggle in the faceoff circle wining only 35% (8 of 15). But that one win was crucial. Malkin now has 66 points on the season, which should shake out to about 6th in the league. Most excellent. His point per game ratio is slightly up from last season's excellent rookie campaign too (1.22 to 1.08).
- The Isles outshot the Pens 11-5 in the 3rd period and it was sort of shades of the last game when Pittsburgh blew a lead to Jersey and went on to lose in OT. But most of those Islander shots were of the desperation "just throw the puck on net and see what happens" variety.
- Unusual scrap between bantomweights Mike Comrie and Maxime Talbot. Wonder what that could have been over?
- The Kris Beech experiment round 2, had it's opening act tonight. Not surprisingly it was mixed results. Beech made a good effort to get a difficult backhand shot on the net while on the powerplay (!!!) but he also took a lazy penalty and didn't deserve to get much more than the 8 minutes and change of icetime that he got.
- All in all it wasn't pretty, but going up against an always gritty foe in NYI, it doesn't have to look purdy; it's about results. The Pens overcame a little bit of what ailed them Monday night by hanging on.
Up next for the Pens is a day off, followed by a 1PM Saturday matinee against the LA Kings. Before you get your hopes up about tallying an easy victory against the league's worst team, consider that tonight the Kings defeated what has been the league's best team in their own barn tonight. There's no such thing in today's NHL as a forgone win, especially at this time of the year.
But for now, it's victory time; and we're another game closer to the return of Marc-Andre Fleury, Gary Roberts, Tyler Kennedy, and some guy named Sidney.