Penguins 5, Flyers 1: If You Give A Million Penguin Power Plays A Million Chances, They’ll Eventually Produce Hamlet

Before the season, I have to admit, I wasn’t totally enthused about the Pens’ re-signing of Brent Johnson, and not because I questioned Johnson’s ability as a backup or his performance in ’09-’10, but because I wanted the Penguins to go after a backup who could potentially get hot for a few games and challenge Fleury — perhaps someone in the Johan Hedberg / Martin Biron price-and-skill range — rather than a very clear backup goaltender, albeit a reliable and inexpensive one like Johnson. Now, six games into the 2010-11 season, Fleury has started three games and lost all three, and Johnson has started three and won all three. Obviously it’s super early and nothing Johnson does now (or probably ever) would or should unseat Fleury as the team’s long-term #1 goaltender, but for the meantime, Johnson is pushing Fleury for that starting job much in the way I’d hoped a Hedberg-type would have, and at the exceedingly reasonable cost of a two-year $600,000 cap hit (while also pulling the Penguins from 1-3 to 3-3).

It’s entirely possible Johnson will start letting in Scott Gomez dump-ins along the ice from 30 feet and this entire newfound confidence in his ability to challenge Fleury while helping the Penguins win in the short-term will immediately dissipate, but at least for the first six games, Johnson’s sudden steadiness couldn’t have come at a better time. Ideally, he can keep this up for a while and split the next 10 starts or so with Fleury 50/50, and after some confidence-redeeming Fleury spot-starts, Fleury can go back to being their 80/20 starter and playing like it. Or maybe he’ll keep letting in Scott Gomez dump-ins along the ice from 30 feet and I’ll have to keep copying and pasting my “Seriously, I’m not just whining, Fleury is factually not playing well” posts.

As for the Flyers game itself, the Pens got 700 power plays and finally scored on a few of them, the Flyers had trouble finishing and basically folded in the third, and after the game Mike Richards said a bunch of stuff that would’ve been interpreted as bitchy whining if Crosby had said it (gets going about a minute in):

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