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Plus/Minus: Red Wings 3, Pens 0

February 8, 2009

Welcome to Plus/Minus, a feature brought to you by Triple Yoi’s resident unconditional and unwavering Pens fan.

How it works: After each Pens game, various factors that benefitted the Pens are rounded up in the Plus section. What didn’t work falls into the Minus category. You won’t find a complete game recap here. Molinari has those under control over at the Post-Gazette.

Red Wings 3, Penguins 0

Plus:

-The first period. The Pens were off to a hot start in the first period. The intensity was there and they looked like a team fighting for a spot in the playoffs. None of that sleepy, unmotivated junk that plagued them most of December/January. The defensive woes of the last few games were a distant memory as the blueliners finally pulled themselves together. The Red Wings were outshot this period 7-6.

-A physical game. The Pens led Detroit in hits 30-14. Staal, Orpik, Talbot, Cooke, and Crosby had a great showing and really tossed around Detroit. Orpik, 2nd in hits overall in the NHL, led the Pens with 7 hits today, a sign that he’s healthy and recovered from his undisclosed injury. It was nice to see the Pens play physically—an element that has been MIA during the team’s recent funk.

Jordan Staal. After being nearly invisible for the past month, Staal reminds everyone that he’s still on the roster. While he didn’t rack up another hat trick against Detroit, Staal made his presence known on the ice by registering three hits.

Kris Letang. Letang is easily the Pens best defenseman right now. Since the return from the All Star break, he’s had two multiple goal games. Today, he tied Malkin with 4 shots on goal. Maybe the trip home to Montréal was the confidence boost he needed. Can we send Satan to Slovakia for the weekend?

Minus:

The second and third period. Welcome to the 08-09 season: defensive breakdowns and no puck control. The Pens were outplayed. Detroit was the better team.

The Power Play. 0 for 498598347 again. With the amount of talent this team has, the PP is inexcusable.

Wilted Flower. Fleury was a little off.

Crosby’s scoring winger. Dupuis-Crosby-Kennedy? Seriously?

Line juggling. Therrien’s love of juggling the lines is not working. With a team that’s trying to overcome injuries and adapt to new faces in the lineup, what’s needed is consistency. Lines and defensive pairings are not only changing from game-to-game but in-game as well. As soon as he finds a combination that works, it’s time to change it. Case in point: Satan-Talbot-Kennedy was really gelling. Satan was feeding off Talbot and Kennedy’s energy and was finally breaking out of his malaise. Therrien’s reaction? Break them apart. Letang-Eaton have been dominating, what say you Therrien? Pair Letang with Whitney during the third period against Detroit. The line juggling may have worked before but not this season, not with this team. Why can’t Therrien see this?

Overall: -1 (+4, -5)
As noted above, the Red Wings outplayed the Pens. It wasn’t an entirely hopeless game as Pittsburgh had a few moments here and there.

What’s important is that the confidence boost from the wins against Tampa Bay and Columbus doesn’t disappear. San Jose on Wednesday will be tough, but the focus needs to be on upcoming should-wins against Toronto on Saturday and the Islanders next Monday.

Locker room reaction? It’s going to be very important to get two days of good practice and get back with a positive attitude. — Kris Letang.

Word, Tanger. Go Pens.

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