3/5/09: Penguins 4, Panthers 1

This was the most satisfying overall win of the Penguins’ season so far, with the possible exception of the January 13th win in Philly (mostly because I was in attendance in my highly conspicuous blue ‘Malkin‘ jersey). The Penguins pelted 47 shots on Tomas Vokoun (which is closer to around 70 shots in Penguin currency), Fleury only allowed one bizarre goal on 32 shots including numerous quality chances, and the Pens remained up-tempo and aggressive when leading in the third, a trait that’s been frighteningly absent this season even during their recent win streak.

Furthermore, the Kunitz and Guerin acquisitions have completely transformed the depth on the Penguins’ lines; instead of clinging on as underqualified top-line wingers, players like Pascal Dupuis, Max Talbot, and Tyler Kennedy are now serving as perhaps overqualified 3rd and 4th liners, providing Pittsburgh with the basic depth required of any legitimate contender. Craig Adams skated hard, never got caught out of position, and randomly even generated some scoring chances; he looks to be a welcome addition even if he never recaptures his dynamic 7-goal potential.

The Pens’ four-game win streak coming into this game was built on a sleepwalking victory over a Long Island expansion team, a game in Chicago they tried to throw several times, a win over Dallas about an hour after the Stars just played another game, and a win over a Tampa team with nothing to play for. A win’s a win, but tonight, that win came on the road against a playoff-caliber opponent who embarrassed the Penguins in January, and it came in a wholly convincing fashion.

Pssst…also, now that he’s out of the room…can we all admit that Kris Letang is better than Ryan Whitney, both offensively and defensively, and still more than four years younger? Ok, cool.

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