Penguins’ Secondary Scoring Comes to Life, Craig Adams Shines


If I were to have told anyone before last night’s victory over the New Jersey Devils that they would see Craig Adams score a break away goal, Steve Downie get the first star of the game, or the Pittsburgh Penguins score 7 unanswered goals, they would have laughed in my face.  If I would have told them all three would occur in the same 60-minute tilt, no one would have believed me.

Such was the case, however, and no one was happier than the 18,650 amped-up fans at the Consol Energy Center. And let’s be honest, they had good reason to be amped — the Penguins’ secondary scoring came to life against the Devils.

I have been harsh on both Downie and Adams this year.  With Downie, I have been critical of his tendency to take unnecessary (read: stupid) penalties.  My knock on Adams, which is hardly novel, is the same that many in the Pittsburgh media lay at his feet — he is too old and doesn’t deserve an NHL spot with this organization.  However, I am both willing and eager to give each the credit they deserve after last night’s performance.

Oct 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Steve Downie (23) reacts after being named the first star of the game against the New Jersey Devils at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Downie played a solid game last night, aside from his offensive contributions. Although he did take a penalty for holding Jaromir Jagr, that much can be forgiven because of how hard Downie was working at that time he took the penalty and because Jagr has such a large frame to work around — those penalties are bound to get called from time-to-time.

Downie’s play was energetic, focused, and tough. In fact, my only criticism of Downie’s performance against the Devils is that he did not complete the Gordie Howe Hat Trick to honor the recovering hockey great (Howe suffered a stroke on October 26). I say this in jest because I recognize the very real risk of injury in hockey fighting, and because by the end of the game, the Penguins had nothing left to prove.

Adams also took a penalty last night, his for boarding at 15:28 in the second period. However, had he not taken the penalty, he likely would not have ended up on the score sheet.  Although I largely stand by my assessment of Adams’ abilities (I am not convinced that he can consistently play an NHL-caliber game anymore), the 37-year-old proved that he still has some gas left in the tank.

As he came out of the box, Adams skated a great sweeping path to receive a nice touch pass from Brandon Sutter (who got his first assist of the season on the play, and then a second later in the game) and proceeded to lift the puck glove-side past the net-minder, much to the chagrin of Cory Schneider (who was pulled after two-periods). What impresses me most about Adams’ goal is that it was the go-ahead tally that will go into the books as the game-winner (Adams’ goal put the Penguins up by score of 4-3).

I would be remiss if I did not offer Blake Comeau, who also had a goal and an assist last night, as an honorable mention.  Comeau is a joy to watch because he puts in effort every shift, recognizes his role, and makes the most of the chances he is given.  The man is a team player.

With the Pittsburgh’s secondary players starting to provide meaningful scoring support, the Penguins’ offense is truly firing on all cylinders.