3/8/09: Penguins 4, Capitals 3 (SO)

With an astonishing 5-0 road trip, a feat never before accomplished in franchise history, the Penguins have stormed into… EIGHTH PLACE? STILL?? Do any teams in the East ever frickin’ lose??

That being said, today’s game was an important, if shaky, outcome for the Pens; they finally decided to show up against Washington and pulled off a win despite being outshot 32-22 and gift-wrapping two Capitals goals in uniquely spastic ways. I’d chalk it up as another plus game for Marc-Andre Fleury, who allowed nothing questionable despite 4 Capitals power plays and a series of barrages in the Caps’ 12-shot third period.

Bill Guerin had the courtesy not to yell “I’m a 38-year-old from the Islanders and I’m already better than every winger you had before last week!” during his FSN postgame interview, but his toe-drag wrister for the third Penguin goal and his setup of Crosby for the first were both legitimately gorgeous plays that I can’t imagine any other Pens winger (save Kunitz) making with regularity, including Petr Sykora.

Still, the Pens have a ways to go defensively before I can view their recent run (8-1-1 under Dan Bylsma) as anything that would translate into postseason success; the amount of effort they had to expound to build up a 3-1 lead versus the ease with which they blew it just isn’t a characteristic of a team that’s gonna control a seven-game series against a 1-4 seed from the East. Or, as my one friend’s text in the third concisely summed it up, “How the Fuck is a 2 goal lead in the third period so worthless for this team?” (capitalization on the F-word his, not mine).

I suppose the positive spin on the Pens’ current position in the standings is that if they’d gone 2-3 on the roadtrip versus 5-0, they’d probably be essentially done for the season right now. They’re still very much alive, they’re still playing better than almost every team around them in the East, Fleury’s finally strung a solid month together, and they’re heading home for a date against their new “The Standings Are Weird” archrivals, the Florida Panthers. Hopefully the fans embrace the newfound rivalry by making “David Booth is a whiner” signs and booing him every time he touches the puck. Wait, that won’t work…


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