Recap 01: Hockey, We Missed You

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After the first long offseason in 24 months. After the Phil Kessel drama that seemed to restart every 2 weeks. After the speculation and then signing of Jack Johnson. After the Pirates won 10 games in a row and tricked everyone into thinking they had a chance. After the Steelers started wishing they could go back to when kneeling was their biggest issue. After way too long it was finally time to watch some Pittsburgh Penguins hockey. The stage was set as the defending champion Washington Capitals made their triumphant return to the steel city after raising their first real banner the night before. After some player introductions and Jimmers paying respect to the flag it was time to drop the puck.


Both Dumoulin and Sprong were game-time decisions and both found themselves in the lineup.

After what seemed to be 10 years the pregame introductions and national anthem finally concluded and hockey was once again underway in Pittsburgh. The Pens took about 12 seconds to get back in the feel of things before the second line started some signature Sullivan-era cycling which pinned the Caps in their own zone for over 30 seconds. After cycling the puck behind the goal from Kessel to Malkin it found its way to the point where the big rig with the big twig buried the first goal of the year


Even the Space Force would fail at defending this type of motion.

The Pens continued pouring into the Caps zone and it looked like they were going to explode, less than two minutes after the goal a turnover resulted in Crosby being all alone and a chance to go up 2-0 but he couldn’t hold the climax and Holtby was able to dip his toe in the well.

With big saves come big goals. In the following minute the Caps would tie the game after a puck bounced off the lively boards at the Joe Louis Arena.

Note that the Capitals still suck at Twitter and only link full video highlights for goals so I am taking the first gif I find, Jakub Vrana is not Jake the Snake, he is Jakub the Teacup.

Bob Errey mentioned that the organization dropped $400k into the boards to make them more lively this offseason, the team apparently forgot to tell Murray and the defense.

Less than one minute later the Caps were nonchalantly skating in the offensive zone when the puck came to Brooks Orpik, who threw it to the net with the authority of a mall cop, which somehow was enough to get by Murray and give the Caps a 2-1 lead.

Errey tried to say that Murray was shielded but that is a Grant Paulsen defending Tom Wilson level of homerism, this one falls squarely on Murray:

Rough start for Murray but I think I know why and Tom Sestito seems to agree

Fortunately for the Pens the Caps still have Matt Niskanen and he still has a donut for a brain as he took a penalty to give the Pens their first powerplay. The first unit made more passes than the Steelers have all year but got the same result and it was time for the second unit of Guentzel-Brassard-Sprong to get a swing.  The puck found Sprong in the slot and he quickly fired it on goal, it was deflected right away but landed on Guentzel’s tape and the snake doesn’t miss from there


You have to love the confidence from Sullivan in putting Sprong on the 2nd unit, and even more so you have to love the shot first mentality by Sprong. Another change to the already lethal powerplay was the offensively minded Jack Johnson, who along with Letang on the top unit gives the second unit Justin Schultz which is just insane.

The game remained tied for 30 seconds before Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin forgot about defense and let some guy named Ovechkin get alone in front of the net.

Probably not a good strategy to let anyone skate in unmarked like that, Dumoulin and Sheahan caught flatfooted:

Fortunately for the Pens the period would end without anymore red lights going off.

The Penguins would start the second period a man short but made sure nothing would go for the Caps. The Pens used Rust-Sheahan and Brassard-Cullen as the forward pairings on the penalty kill and Johnson, Maatta, Dumoulin and Letang as the defenders. As soon as the powerplay ended the Pens jumped to their horses and it was the Thanks Letang Redemption Tour benefiting off of some hard work by Crosby


How many times have we seen this from Crosby? Not willing to quit on the play at all, as Holtby finally feels successful in stopping two grade A scoring chances Sid is busy looking up to find his target, makes a perfect backhand pass to the point and it results in a goal. Taken for granted so often, but damn what a player.

The game settled in a little bit before the Capitals got an odd-man rush with John Carlson leading the way up the boards, he looked at a pass option for a nanosecond before ripping an absolute laser behind Murray to give the Caps the lead again.

Stop me if you’ve seen this before, a Penguins defender pinches and the first forward back isn’t fast enough to compensate. Oleksiak with the aggressive pinch here but he arrives a split second too late as the Caps forward has already chipped the puck into the air

At this point it is up to Hornqvist (in the circle) to recognize the pinch and bust his ass to get back and cover for Oleksiak.

Though Hornqvist has pursued the puck Carlson has extended the gap between Hornqvist and himself earning a full two stride insurmountable lead in the race down the ice. So who gets the bulk of the blame on this play?

4 of the 5 Washington players are taking strides towards the Pittsburgh net with 2 of the Penguins forwards behind them. Oleksiak has to recognize this situation and pull back on the pinch, taking the chance that he along with Schultz and Crosby will have a better shot at a 5 on 3 rush than Schultz and Crosby will have at a 4 on 2. This was a frustrating sequence to see because of how many times it burned the Pens last season but at least they have 81 games to fix it?

Following the goal the Penguins again looked confused and decided the best thing to do would be take a penalty so Kessel slashed Kuznetsov and the Caps had a chance to go up by two. They wouldn’t go up by two as Murray and the Killers held strong. Three minutes later the Pens would get a powerplay chance of their own, a chance that made the toilet paper you used after your morning BM look beautiful.

Fortunately for all of our hearts Sullivan put out his new favorite line following the powerplay and they got the wheels rolling again, after multiple scoring chances they couldn’t convert but the Penguins were churning. A few seconds later Sidney Crosby did everything possible for Jake Guentzel on a two on one but Guentzel shot it right into the only 5 inches of the net that he needed to in order to not get a goal.

The Pens did not let the “save” deter them as they kept challenging the Caps. Eventually it was Crosby against Niskanen in the corner once again, Niskanen looked to have a clear win but Sid being Sid is never out of a fight, he finds a way to spin a 180 and knock the puck loose:

Watch Sid at the beginning of the clip, Matt Niskanen thinks he is getting ready to walk this puck back to DC before Sid takes one hand to stop him, directly turning into a goal.

This set up extended zone time which resulted in the puck eventually going to Justin Schultz at the point and Schultz wasted no time firing one in low looking for a deflection and that’s where the Snake Redemption took place

JAKE GUENTZEL (2) Assisted by SCHULTZ (2) & CROSBY (2) @ 15:09

So much right goes on during this play and it all starts with the never quit effort by Crosby, a play that probably went overlooked by most. Justin Schultz with the smart play of firing it to the net and suddenly the Pens were looking like the team we all thought they were.

On the following faceoff the Black and Yella wasn’t stopping and the big machine kept purring. Eventually the third line got to work again and this time they would give the Pens the lead when the Big Brass Show banged home that juicy juice

DERICK BRASSARD Assisted by Simon & DUMOULIN (2) @ 16:58

Give me this all day every day. The third line of Simon-Brassard-Rust looked every bit as good as Mike Sullivan said they would during the first two periods and it was so nice to see that bottom six scoring.

Neither team would score in the final three minutes and the Pens would take a crazy 5-4 lead into the third.

22 shots in the period for the Pens as the respond appropriately to the 5 shot first period total.

If you recall the Penguins had difficulty closing out games in the postseason last year even when they had the lead so this was one thing to focus on as the third began. Fortunately Brett Connolly took a penalty less than 40 seconds into the frame giving the Penguins the advantage as they looked for a strong start to the period.  The Penguins powerplay was dominating the possession game but just couldn’t get anything to go, as the time expired the first unit was back out there and they took the Caps to church. It started with Crosby behind the net who found Letang at the top of the circle, Letang somehow received the puck across his body and turned it into a tape to tape pass to Evgeni Malkin who promptly buried the biscuit between Holtby’s legs.

EVGENI MALKIN Assisted by LETANG & CROSBY (2) @ 2:45 PPG

Sure sex is great and all but have you seen this play?

The Caps would take another penalty one minute later but the Pens weren’t able to capitalize on the chance. Following the kill Malkin nearly brought down the house on a mini breakaway but Holtby fanned it away with his stick before Geno could make a move. The Caps tried to use the kill and save to their advantage but then took another penalty putting the Pens on their 5th powerplay of the game. The Pens played a conservative powerplay which again resulted in nothing but also didn’t result in a shorthanded goal or any real momentum for Washington.

The game continued slowly marching on and the Penguins seemed to be dominating the play until they became a little too complacent, and much like we saw in the playoffs last year mental mistakes became costly. First it was a lazy exit pass to the center of the ice by Malkin which went right to the tape of Oshie and into the back of the net.

20 seconds later the puck was being sent in by Carlson and deflected by Oshie in front and in. The play was initially determined as no goal but after a referee huddle it was determined that it was a good goal, a review of which would not overturn the call. Mike Sullivan was irate that the initial call was changed but the refs continue their undefeated streak of not changing calls after coaches yell at them and the game was now 6-6.

For what it is worth Mike Sullivan is the type of father that says “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed” and it completely crushes your soul…

The intensity that followed from both teams in the next six minutes should result in at least 5 firings today at the NBCSN headquarters for not having this game on national television. Both teams turned it up to 11 as they tried to secure a regulation win. Jack Johnson had the best look after Evgeni Malkin made an impressive defensive play on Ovechkin but Johnson couldn’t get the final contact on the puck and somehow finished the breakaway without recording a shot on goal.

The period would end in chaos and we would be heading to overtime.

The game was already intense enough so fuck it why not make it 3 on 3 right? The Pens looked to give the Caps an easy clear until Crosby made an impressive keep in on Kuznetsov along the boards, he then turns this into a quick acceleration towards the goal and suddenly Kuznetsov is left with nothing left to do but skate to the penalty box, disappointed Kuznetsov didn’t do the eagle dance as he made his way to the box. On the following possession Sidney Crosby once again reminded us all how fucking good he is

via GIPHY (Thanks El-Wray)

This isn’t preseason. That’s Matt Niskanen and Nicklas Backstrom getting split in half by an off balanced one-handed Crosby. Get bent. Sid of course finishes the play off by getting the puck to Letang tape to tape because why not.

The puck would be cleared but not even a breath later it was back i the zone and we were back on the Thanks Letang Redemption Tour

KRIS LETANG (2) Assisted by MALKIN (2) & KESSEL (2) @ 1:30 PPG

Slam Bam Thank You Ma’am


  • – I am saving my review of Jack Johnson until around game ten or so, especially following a game where 6 goals were allowed. I don’t recall many “WTF Johnson” moments so there is that.
  • – Daniel Sprong was limited to a tad over 6 minutes. I think this is by design as Sullivan molds him into the player he thinks he can be. Unlike with Ryan Reaves where Sullivan didn’t want to play the fourth line, last night Sully had to continue rolling his top 3 lines as the game was too close too late to give the 4th line time, and the third line was just insane.
  • – Derick Brassard with a team high 6 shots on goal, it was a night and day difference between the Brassard we saw in the playoffs and the man that played last night. I hope you are ready for more of the latter.
  • – Matt Murray gave up 6 goals with a .833 save percentage, I understand that. Holtby gave up 7 with a .829. Nothing more needs to be said about Murray at this time after a game where two Stanley Cup winning netminders gave up 13 goals. Murray did make 30 saves which starts his “saves MATTer” campaign off with a hefty $900.00
  • – The Pens had 3 home preseason games, 2 of which Murray played but he along with the rest of the team looked completely out of sync with the new boards
  • – Crazy enough only Maatta and Dumoulin finished with minuses at -1 for the defense while the other 4 finished EVEN.
  • – Sidney Crosby was unbelievable in this game. The team has been saying they have never seen him so determined, if last night was any indication look the hell out
  • – Damn it is good to be back



'Opening' night

  • "The old triangle man in back and two out front." - Errey (32%, 10 Votes)
  • "A tip, a tip by Oshie, a pretty nice tip." - Murray (16%, 5 Votes)
  • "Look at him dart up the middle with his stick. Keep your sticks to yourself." - Errey (16%, 5 Votes)
  • "Ram it back in." - Lang (13%, 4 Votes)
  • "And that big fat juicy rebound, off the pillows." - Errey (6%, 2 Votes)
  • "A sloppy but very entertaining first period." - Mears (6%, 2 Votes)
  • "That's a lot of beef there." - Errey (6%, 2 Votes)
  • "This one hits Holtby in the 'Y'." - Errey (3%, 1 Votes)
  • "He's coming, carrying the mail driving down the middle." - Errey (0%, 0 Votes)
  • "Potent PP." - Errey (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 31

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