Recap 55: Welcome Back Carter

The penultimate game of the regular season has, indeed, arrived. And as luck/fate/talent/skill/grit/determination would have it, the Pens are in a virtual tie for 1st place in the East. Which reminds me – the Pens have won 5 Stanley Cups, we all know this. But do you know how many division championships they’ve won? Keep reading for the answer… and also for a great coupon for chili!

Tanev was a full participant in practice again, but still wasn’t ready to go. You’d love to see him have a game to knock the rust off, but when you’re Tanev, does it really matter?

A decision was made in the Ungaba household tonight. I decided I was tired of missing the first period, work be damned! So I sat down and watched the whole damn thing, figuring I’d work through the rest and listen. I did this because I’m an idiot, as you obviously know by now.

Another thing we should know by now is that giving he puck away in the neutral zone when travelling away from the DZ at high speed is a bad thing. Caesar Caligula recognized this and repeated the lard scene with Jarry, most certainly against his will.

https://twitter.com/BuffaloSabres/status/1390445888993173505?s=20

Ya just gotta be more careful with the puck. Friedman ain’t bad, and maybe Matheson makes that same attempt. In fact, I’m POSITIVE he would have tried the same thing. Oh well, risk / reward and all that. 1-0 smelly beasties.

The next 7-ish minutes had me questioning my desire to change things up, I have to be honest. I mean, hockey is fun, and perhaps I’m just spoiled, but I desperately was looking for something to, you know, happen. Chances were mostly in the Pens favor, which was great, it just didn’t matter much.

At least not until the 10 minute mark when Canner and Carter (tots adorbs, no?) executed what looked to be a perfect 2 on 1 except it wasn’t… except it was…

Carter (13) from McCann (17), Gaudreau (5) – 9:57 – EV

Play went on for another minute or two but at the next stoppage they checked the video and got it right. You think Carter and McCann have figured each other out yet? Also a great pass by Gaudreau to get things moving. The line was clickin’, yo! Carter, 1 – Buffalol, 1.

We had barely finished celebrating when Ruotso…. Rutsa… some Nordic dude tripped Kapanen and the Pens would get to whip out the PP for the first (and, *spoiler alert* only) time tonight.

PP #1 wasn’t very stiff, with Malkin telegraphing passes de rigueur. That meant that the 2nd unit made up of, not coincidentally, McCann and Carter, would get a shot. And oh hey lookee here now…

Carter (14) from Zucker (8), Kapanen (19) – 11:39 – PPG

Great puck movement including, and limited to, all of the dudes in black and gold. Tic-tac-muthafukkin-toe! When your second PP unit has neither Crosby nor Malkin and still has the top Penguins PP goal scorer in McCann, along with Kapanen and Carter? I mean… dayum. I need to go look at other teams second PP units except I do NOT need to do that because I know they cannot compete so what is the point? 2-1 Jeff Carter.

The last 8-ish minutes happened but nobody really cared. Back to work for Ung.

You know, if this had been LAST week, I would have worked through the first and started watching now. But today…

It only took a few minutes for the fireworks to start. The dude that some asshole couple decided to name TAGE (baby, it’s just like ‘page’ but you know, with a T instead. Ain’t nobody picked that one yet, I’m sure!) opened the next chapter in his Penguins killing ways.

Perfect feed on a 2 on 1 with Dumo leaving TAGE (oh good lord, really) to get covered by the center streaking back. That was a judgement call, and most would have done the same. But whoever it was… McCann, maybe? hard to see… couldn’t get there in time. 2-2, and back to start we go.

…but not for long, as Eldest Penguin Jeffrey Carter decided that two goals just wasn’t going to be enough for tonight.

Carter (15) from Pettersson (7), Gaudreau (6) – 4:36 – EV

OK first of all, sweet feed from Gaudreau to a streaking Pettersson. Yes, you read that right. And then who is Jeffrey-on-the-spot? Uh… yup. Jeffrey. Cleaning up the garbage, and smooshing one of the Rasmusi in the process for good measure. Great stuff by that line. Please send those virtual hats on dahn. 3-2 Linda Carter.

But just as we were putting the last of the virtual hats into the virtual incinerator (because who wants virtual lice, ya know?), Emperor Caligula would bloody another hole.

https://twitter.com/BuffaloSabres/status/1390461018615296009?s=20

What’s funny about that one is that Geno *almost* made the perfect defensive play, lifting Caesar’s stick just as he was going to shoot. Unfortunately, Jarry was in the process of saving the shot-that-might-have-been when Caggy realized the puck was still RIGHT THERE and would attempt the shot again, this time to greater purpose/result. And yet again, it’s a new hockey game – 3-3.

You know who doesn’t like new hockey games? Brian Dumoulin.

Dumoulin (4) from Letang (37), Crosby (38) – 6:26 – EV

OK, so Dumol-IN THE NET is actually really clever. If I got paid more, maybe I’d come up with shit like that. C’est la vie. Anyway, great faceoff play and you have to feel bad for the Youngstown Prodigy except not really. 4-3 good guys.

59 seconds later, Carter’s line would again take the ice and remind everyone that they just weren’t done making the Sabres feel like the bottom dwelling team that they are.

McCann (14) from Gaudreau (7) – 7:25 – EV

What has Ungle Ung been telling you all year? McCann is a goal scorer and goal scorers, uh… well… they score goals. That release from McCann is faptastic enough, but using Hat Trick Scoring Carter as the decoy to get it done is superb. That said, it’s Gaudreau who makes this play. I find it hard to believe that this guy was on the NHL scrap heap before the Pens swooped in and grabbed him. That’s three times tonight I almost butchered his last name because we all know 3 ASS = 1 G. Just great stuff from that line.

OK, so that’s 5 goals in under 4 minutes. All because I decided to watch the first period instead tonight. You’re welcome? The rest of the period would be more about both teams kind of resetting and figuring out what was next. For the Sabres it was a summer in the Buffalo area. I mean… I’ve done that. I’ve spent a summer there and I can promise you that there are worse places. But if you’re a millionaire hockey player, are there really?

Holding a two goal lead against the bottom-feeder in your division would seem like a good time to just kind of settle in and wait for things to happen. Interestingly, nobody told Jeff Carter that was the plan…

Carter (16) from McCann (18) – 3:02 – EV

https://twitter.com/penguins/status/1390474325904568324?s=20
Up yer nose with a rubber hose

I mean… talk about taking a page from the Crosby and Malkin playbook, no? Watch Carter throughout this sequence. Watch how he glances over at the place that he is heading to next to see what is open and what is not. First and foremost, its net-front. That’s why we wanted him. Big guy, go get in front. And, for good measure, he lightly cross-checks some Buffachoad. Then it’s move to the puck… then it’s recognize you could keep it in and BACK to the net… then it’s just skill. The Penguins went after Carter for a few reasons, and all of them were on display during this play. Carter now has more post-deadline-as-an-acquisition-player goals than anyone else, and the Pens gave up a couple of conditional 3rd/4th round picks to get him, not to mention aren’t on the hook for more than half his salary this season and next. Is this the 3rd line center we were promised when Staal left.

The answer is yes. yes he is. And I just ripped my pants because of it. 6-3 good guys.

The Pens would keep the pressure on, and a few minutes later The Captain would decided that displaying his skills was the right thing to do.

Crosby (24) from Letang (38), Guentzel (34) – 6:25 – EV

Champagne and Chili, anyone? Just me? OK…

Deflection Perfection indeed. It was a good shot from Letang, and the slow-mo would show just how tough it can be to get shots on goal from the blueline, but Youngstown’s own Houser had the puck in his sights and would have made the save… except Sid. Because Sid. Always Sid. And don’t you forget it.

A few minutes later, the Sabres would start a-rattlin’ and Zucker would get spooked into the ol’ puck-over-glass, giving Buffalo another chance on the PP. This time, they wouldn’t miss.

Fun fact: Skinner collects $9 MILLION dollars a year to play hockey. That was his 7th goal this season. As a point of reference, Jeff Carter scored goals 5,6,7 & 8 SINCE THE TRADE DEADLINE tonight, and he collects just over $5M, with LA paying half.

Whatever, it still sucks to give up four goals. Luckily, Kapanen felt left out and decided to make people say his name.

Kapanen (11) from Malkin (20), Zucker (9) – 13:05 – EV

So in that tweet above, you have to fast forward almost to the end to see the Kapanen shot. It’s worth it, trust me.

Also…

Thoughts:

  • Carter with his first ever 4 goal game in 16 YEARS. Is he the best trade deadline acquisition of the Crosby era? I am not sure, but I can’t think of a better one right now.
  • Malkin with a dumb play or two… but also a pretty sweet assist in 15 minutes of ice time. Malkin needs to simmer before he boils and I can feel the heat picking up, I think…
  • Kapanen showing signs of being jealous of Carter and that is a GOOD thing. More please.
  • Gaudreau is found money. So fun to watch.
  • Sever players had no points tonight for the Pens. The Blueger line … and Rust. That’s fine. Rust will be fine. Taking a night off is OK.
  • Sid wasn’t particularly marvelous… except he was. And with only 17:17 in TOI, leading all fowards by :01 over Mr. Carter.
  • No forward had less than Sceviour’s 11:24 or more than Sid’s 17:17. THAT is called rolling the lines and is great to see.
  • Jarry was fine. Not great, but also not bad. Not need to worry.
  • Oh, and the answer is 8. The Penguins have won 8 divisions in their 51 years. Crazy, right?
  • FIRST PLACE BITHES