REGAMECAPDAY 44 & 45: No Ducks Given

The Penguins started their two week long trek across the western United States last night in Anaheim where they took on Daniel Sprong and the Ducks. The biggest concern heading into this game for the Penguins was the loss of Hornqvist and Aston-Reese, and who/how Sullivan would replace them. Before the game we got our starting lineups, which looked a lot like the lines used in practice the day before:

Murray getting the nod in this one meaning newly resigned DeSmith will take on the Kings tonight.

Like the Cranberries we had barely just begun before Nick Ritchie snuck one in behind Murray and the Ducks had a 1-0 lead not even 90 seconds in.

The Penguins first line had some incredible looks on goal but Gibson was busy carrying the dead Ducks like he has done all season.

After Bob Errey nutted over some Gibson saves the Ducks got the puck behind the goal, Cogliano fed Getzlaf in front and he quickly put it through a screen in front of Murray to make it 2-0 Ducks.

The Pens didn’t look completely out of sorts following the goal, but that final play was just missing on numerous occasions. As fate would have it, Twitterverse would get the sweet release they’ve been waiting on for two months when Daniel Sprong finally scored a goal. There were “told you so’s,” there were “would you look at that’s,” there were “imagine if he was with Sid’s,” and then there’s the real view… you are bragging over the 6th goal of the season.

Nothing else tickled the twine in the first and the Penguins went into the room down 3-0 as the Ducks looked forward to ending their 9 game skid.

Most common responses to this Tweet was “Sprong is the boost you’re looking for,” most likely typed out by a person still wearing an Ian Cole jersey.

The Ducks have lost a lot of games in a row, so they were in unfamiliar territory coming into a period with a large lead. After taking a late penalty to end the first the Penguins powerplay had the fresh sheet of ice to work with. One day I will do a study that proves that teams generally don’t capitalize on this often over exaggerated advantage by play-by-play announcers. This time was no different, but only by the fraction of a second.

EVGENI MALKIN (14) Assisted by KESSEL (31) & LETANG (28) @ 0:59

Talk about picking your spot! Here is something I always try to get new fans of the game to appreciate, when we watch the gif we can see the 12-14″ opening between Gibson’s right leg and the post without a problem. What we forget is the gif is slowed down from real-time, and we are seeing it from a camera angle way behind the players point-of-view. Malkin saw the opening, calculated where he needed to place the puck, and achieved it within a split second. Unbelievable spot placement by the “struggling” Russian.

The broadcast crew said the Penguins started tilting the tables after the goal but that was mostly an illusion, they had been playing well before the goal but just couldn’t beat Gibson. After continuing their solid play the Penguins first line set up in the offensive zone and got to work. This time it was Brian Dumoulin with a sweet cross-ice pass to Jake Guentzel and a perfectly timed screen by Crosby.

JAKE GUENTZEL (19) Assisted by DUMOULIN (12) @ 4:54

You often hear the phrase “goal-scorers goal,” and this is what that phrase means. Guentzel is facing a red-hot goaltender, and he waits until he fins out where he can place this puck. A younger player or a player that isn’t known as a sniper shoots this wide trying to pick a corner. Guentzel places it in the one spot that Gibson doesn’t have covered, apparently a Ducks boner doesn’t drag weeds.

With the game back to a one-goal difference suddenly the Ducks looked a lot more like the Ducks we expected. The Penguins continued trying for the tying goal but couldn’t get much done, so the Ducks decided taking a penalty would be a grand idea. The Pens powerplay got to work, a unit that has had minor success without Patric Hornqvist. On this night in Anaheim however, Jake Guentzel filled in for the blonde Swede and got the job done in front of the net.

JAKE GUENTZEL (20) Assisted by KESSEL (32) & MALKIN (33) @ 11:24 PPG

You have to love that move by Kessel to get the puck to the front of the net, and of course the finish by Guentzel. The goal tied the game at 3, erasing a three-goal deficit against an inferior team?? Now that is what champs are made of.

The Penguins would receive another powerplay not even four minutes later. The chance to take their first lead of the game was lost when Malkin mishandled a puck in the neutral zone and the Ducks got a 2 on 0 mini-breakaway. Jakob Silfverberg did the smart thing by shooting before Murray could get set-up and the Ducks were back in front 4-3.

Really smart play by Silfverberg to wrist this shot when he did which most likely caught Murray off guard a bit. The Pens wouldn’t convert on the remaining advantage time and the period would conclude 4-3.

Brian Dumoulin, one of the great philosophisizers of our time.

The Ducks had one goal in mind starting the third period, and that was to hold off the Pens and protect their one-goal lead. The Penguins were determined to make sure their three-goal comeback didn’t go to waste. At the mid-way point of the period it was the newly constructed second line tying the game up again, when Tanner Pearson got shit done.

TANNER PEARSON (7) Assisted by MALKIN (34) & SIMON (12) @ 9:33

Simon and Malkin are starting to build some really nice chemistry, resulting in extended zone times. When Evgeni Malkin gets extended zone time, good things like this goal happen.

With the game tied again the Penguins were determined to put the Ducks into misery. Just over one minute after the tying goal Phil Kessel pissed on every lazy narrative from Toronto by singlehandedly giving the Penguins their first lead of the game.

PHIL KESSEL (18) Assisted by LAZINESS @ 10:21

Goals like this make every hockey minded person smile. It’s what you want to see form your kids on Saturday morning during pee-wee games. It’s what separates good hockey players from great ones. This is a play that a player fully committed to winning makes, please remember this one when the Penguins media shifts from Antonio Brown to Kessel.

After losing the lead the Ducks looked as lost as an Asian family in Disneyland and the Penguins dropped into defensive mode. After five minutes of shoving the Ducks around the second-line got to work again, and after Malkin nearly beat Gibson Tanner Pearson was there for th rebound.

TANNER PEARSON (8) Assisted by MALKIN (35) & PETTERSSON (13) @ 16:35

Pearson scoring around the net like this is exactly what the team, and Malkin particularly, needed. It’s going to be tough for me to advocate replacing Pearson with Hornqvist, I feel that Pearson and Malkin have good chemistry, and so do Simon and Malkin. Regardless, 6-4 Pens thanks to the offspring of fruit

The Ducks were dead in the water, but decided to pull their goalie anyways. Sullivan has this tendency to hit the “kill now” button when the net is empty, and he often deploys the first line. Many coaches put their penalty killers out when the opposing team pulls their goalie, but that isn’t Sullivan’s music. Crosby gets the puck and feeds Guentzel at center-ice, and Jake finishes the trick.

JAKE GUENTZEL (21) Assisted by CROSBY (34) @ 19:02

Despite going down by 3 in the first the Penguins battled back, time would tick down and this one ended in a



The Penguins are back in action tonight against the worst team in the league, the LA Kings. Of note, Carl Hagelin will play tonight so that’s exciting. Rumor is Hags is enjoying his new home in LA:

The Kings are hot garbage and there isn’t anything else to say about them. If the Pens get the jump early they should coast through this one.

Completely forgot Phaneuf existed, so there’s that

Once rumored as the “perfect winger for Sid” Dustin Brown and the first line is probably the only threat the Kings have. A solid night by Letang and Dumoulin to shut them down would help the Pens tremendously.

I’m already bored with the Kings. Let’s go

Randy Gonelyle

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