Disposing the Ottawa Senators 6-2 Friday night – the Pittsburgh Penguins showed the rest of the NHL world how deadly they really can be when everything is clicking.
A night where captain Sidney Crosby was held to just one assist, the Pens supporting cast carried the torch – continuing to march all over the stat-sheet.
From Pens gunslingers’ Evgeni Malkin and James Neal to Norris finalist Kris Letang, the team is starting to finally look as if someone’s controlling them with a joystick.
As if someone was playing EA Sports NHL ’13 – got in touch with their inner Ray Shero, pulled some strings on a few deals and began to demolish their opponents unrealistically.
Because right now the Pens are undeniably good.
What’s scary is that by now they’ve already forgotten about their dominating semifinal performance and are now focused on the third-round’s Game 1.
For those that are tuned into the Boston Bruins trying to finish of the New York Rangers – they might want to hope the series goes longer than expected – because what awaits them in the next round is a juggernaut poised for inevitable prominence.
Of course, any team can beat anybody when it comes to the NHL playoffs cause well – it’s the playoffs.
But with the way the goals are piling up and how well they’re dictating the tempo of the game it’s hard to not be in awe of the show.
However, the wins wouldn’t be coming so easy had head coach Dan Bylsma not switched goalies. Tomas Vokoun has been fantastic and is a fixture in net for the upcoming contests.
Are there still questions as to how well he’ll hold up in the later rounds, yes – but when your starting goaltender is playing the type of game Vokoun has done thus far, it’s hard not to feel comfortable when he gets the nod.
Improving his overall record to 6-1 in these playoffs, Vokoun’s awareness and calmness around the net has been a huge factor towards keeping the puck out. He might not have as much flexibility as Marc-Andre Fleury – but he’s seeing and controlling the puck more consistently.
Vokoun now ranks second in the NHL with a .941 save percentage and owns a 1.85 goals against average.
A season riddled with injuries, the Pens are looking healthy and seem as though they have the chemistry fully integrated with the midseason acquisitions.
Owning the playoff’s best record at 7-3, Pittsburgh has five skaters in the top ten for the league leaders in scoring – and four of them are in the top five (Malkin, Letang, Crosby, Iginla).
And to think that there was even speculation that James Neal and Jarome Iginla were slumping. The two of them stay off the stat sheet for a few contests and people assume they’re in a little funk.
The depth on Pittsburgh is interminable – some skaters aren’t going to score every night. But each Pens player knows that if they fail to register a point, somebody else on the team is going to pick them up.
If you understand the Penguins you would know that none of them care about their individual performance – they care about the outcome of the game.
Which right now, the results are swaying in their favor convincingly.
So as Pittsburgh anticipates its next opponent – they will rest.
And as they lay dormant, one could only imagine what they’ll do to top their semifinal display.
Monstrous as they were though, this is still the NHL playoffs and i’ll say it again – anybody can beat anybody.
Should the Pens remain adamant towards maintaining their focus towards one game at a time – the sky is the limit for this team.