How the mighty have fallen. Over the past five years or so, Pens-Caps games always had that "big game" feel to them usually because both teams were vying for Eastern Conference supremacy in the standings and the respective fan bases wanted bragging rights. This game, meanwhile, was like two people tackling each other at the bottom of the basement steps in an attempt to clamber up faster than the other. Chirping between fan bases was nonexistent.
After the Read More, we take a look at the play that made all the difference on the scoreboard last night:
The EvgeniMalkin turnover, leading to the lone goal of the game:
The broadcasters and a lot of fans were more than willing to jump on Paul Martin for jumping the gun and assuming Malkin was gonna thread some pass and get the puck out of trouble. Solely blaming Martin on this is a double-edged sword. One way to look at it is this was a good gamble because the Pens need all the offense they can get right now. The other way to look at it is the defense should be playing closer to the vest because the Pens can't score goals right now.
Then some people were pointing the finger at Michalek, since he clearly saw Paul Martin was caught up ice yet still played it like he had help on the back side.
And of course you have to take a look at Malkin, who actually committed the turnover.
Check this goal out. Lemieux's game-winning goal in Game 1 of the '92 Finals:
Lemieux was banking on Murphy getting the puck out of trouble and was already heading to the net. If the Hawks get a piece of that puck, they head the other way on a 2-on-0, Lemieux is the logical goat, and history may have changed. Instead the Pens caught a break, as Steve Larmer, who is no joke, cheated a little bit in his own right and abandoned his penalty-killing assignment, leaving Lemieux all alone to come in back door.
Watch the play from last night again, and you'll see if Malkin can get that puck out of trouble, three things happen: Joel Ward is flat-footed, Chris Kunitz takes the puck, and the Pens have a mini 3-on-2 where Kunitz can dish it to Malkin or Martin sneaking in back door. So, basically Paul Martin is Mario Lemieux, but EvgeniMalkin is not Larry Murphy.
This play was obviously the difference in the game last night, but the Pens' goal-scoring woes are a much bigger issue than Paul Martin making a split-second bet that Malkin could do some magic, a bet where the odds were in Martin's favor. If Malkin punches that puck to Kunitz, the puck may have eventually landed on Paul Martin's stick and then in the back of the net. Instead, Malkin turns it over and a Caps player fresh off the bench ends up taking a pass and beating MAF.
Blame Martin, Michalek, or Malkin. It doesn't really matter. The point is absolutely nothing is going the Pens' way during this 6-game losing streak.
Pens heading on a Florida road trip for games on Friday night and Sunday afternoon and for some reason there is a way more positive feel: