That’s what Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin look like when they’re on top of their game. The Predators game was, I mean, not that embed. That embed is what Pascal Dupuis looks like on an odd man rush.
As much as we love to dissect Letang’s inopportune pinching and Fleury’s psyche and the forwards’ defensive zone faceoff coverage and whatever other details linger whenever Crosby and Malkin aren’t ridiculous and the Penguins lose a game by a goal and the lingering emptiness prohibits us from just copy-pasting “They have Crosby and Malkin, they’ll be fine” and counting it as postgame analysis, in a victory like tonight, that’s precisely what I’ll do. Crosby and Malkin simply willed the Pens to two points tonight.
Fleury played well, and Pascal Dupuis’ stick and Kris Letang’s slapper and some lucky bounces all helped, but this was a game the Penguins would’ve lost if either Crosby or Malkin had dropped a B+. Crosby’s first goal exploited a pretty glaring mistake by Pekka Rinne, who was cheating to his left expecting a pass, and both Malkin’s goal and Crosby’s second goal came off super-fortunate rebounds, but to borrow from my “Sportscaster Cliche” Page-A-Day Calendar, they were both textbook examples of great players creating their own luck. Eric Tangradi goes straight to the net on every single shift, but he still only has one goal; Crosby and Malkin scored tonight by being intuitive, seeing the rebounds before they happened, and fighting to get the right spot. Malkin’s effort on the second Crosby goal was so Hurculean, it made me unselfconscious enough to actually type the adjective “Hurculean”.
Also, before the game I joked to my friend about how much I hated all those damn Predators fans and couldn’t wait for the huge Penguins / Predators rivalry game to shut them up, but then the game actually did end up being really physical and rivalry-seeming, in addition to being extremely entertaining from a skill stand point. With the win, the Pens improve to 5-3-0 overall and 3-0 on the road, and they’re now tied with the Islanders for the most points in the East, even though they’ve played 1-3 more games than every other team (really gotta squeeze in as many games as they can before their three best defensive players come back). Hopefully they can keep it up with only… let me check… 930 games left to play.