Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Magic Number: 3

This game recap, brought to you by the number 3:

  • The number of points (a career high) that Jarkko Ruutu scored
  • The "magic number" to clinch the Atlantic Division for the Penguins, since they won and New Jersey lost in regulation...So any combination of three points earned by the Pens or three points lost by the Devils means the Pens lock down, at worst, the #2 seed in the East. (Ed. revision: It seems the correct magic number is really 5. We're bad at math, we apologize)

Ruutu now has six point (4 goals, 2 assists) in his last six games, if you're keeping track. Ruutu is just playing awesome right now, he's the player the opponents love to hate but he's also doing more than just chipping, he's killing penalties, bringng energy, forechecking and, yes, producing points.

After Georges Laraque scored his goal the big guy did an Alex Ovechkin-esque jump into the boards/glass. We know we're not the only ones worried that the facility wouldn't be able to keep his 260 pounds in the rink, but somehow it did.

It remains to be seen how hurt Marian Hossa may be after what at first appeared to be pretty vicious on the part of Sean Bergenheim (though replays showed it looked like he kind of "tried" to get out of the way). Now that Sidney Crosby is back, is it fitting that Hossa should go back on the shelf? No, no it shouldn't be.

Crosby had several great chances but they all went wide. One gets the feeling that once he gets back up to speed by getting back in "game rhythm" he'll be turning those chances into points.

Ryan Whitney actually didn't look half bad as a winger, but this experiment shouldn't go on for long. Should it?

If we would have offered you $100 bucks to choose a fight, who would have picked up on the Petr Sykora/Miroslav Satan matchup? Didn't think so either.

A sign of how much Marc-Andre Fleury is coming along; he makes saves on 28 of 29 shots and the one that gets by him he's visably upset. Good sign, Fleury's so in the zone that he doesn't want to give up anything. And after that somewhat weak/fluky play ended up in the net he buckled down, played the angles right, looked confident and did what it took....But Fleury still went out in the 3rd period and played a puck that would have been icing and it almost ended up in the net. As far as he's come, there's still room to grow. Which there's nothing wrong for a 23 year old goaltender.

Here's a sight that Islanders saw a lot:
Brooks Orpik had a game high seven hits (plus 2 blocked shots, and a +2 in 19:23 of work). Not to mention chasing around Islanders in an effort to stand up for his teammate when Hossa was injured. We probably highlight Orpik so much because there won't be a chance to for too much longer.

All in all, this was a game that a team aspiring to be a division (and conference) champion has to win; playing a non-playoff team that's banged up at home and with a much more talented team. The Penguins did what they had to do. Now we move on to a matinee NBC (Nothing But Crosby) matchup against those pesky New York Rangers on Sunday.

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