Assistant coach Rick Tocchet gives his three impressions from the bench of the Penguins’ 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.
1. I thought the power play, they stuck with it. A nice couple power-play goals. I thought the last 2-3 games, guys were starting to come around. There was a lot more shots. We moved the puck quick, we didn’t have high-risk plays. We were more decisive.
2. I thought Thomas Greiss did a nice job for us. Came in and played a really good game.
3. The team play. I thought the backchecking, the tracking back was really good most of the game. I’ve got to give a lot of guys credit for their backchecking.
Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box.
1. I thought Mike Johnston pushed the right buttons when it came to his lines. With the offense in a bit of a slump with just three goals in three games entering tonight, the Pens head coach tweaked the forward lines to try to provide a spark. He moved Patric Hornqvist to right wing next to Sidney Crosby and switched David Perron over to the left, moving Chris Kunitz down next to Evgeni Malkin and flipping Blake Comeau over to the right. Those combinations were dominant in the game. I thought Crosby was really strong and powerful on the puck. Kunitz looked faster than he has in a while and created space for his linemates with his speed. And of course, Comeau had a big night on the scoresheet with two goals and an assist and got to the net all game.
2. Yesterday, Johnston talked about ways they could create more offense as a team – asking “how can we generate more from our offensive zone plays, how can we generate more off the rush, how can we generate more from faceoffs, how can we generate more from the power play?” The Pens scored in three of those four situations, so that’s a huge positive. Overall, I thought not only did the Pens win – they won by playing the right way, against one of the NHL's top teams -- an especially heavy, physical, structured club -- in their own building. The Pens finally started doing a lot of the things they’ve been saying they needed to do over their last stretch of games. They put their words into action.
3. Finally, I thought Thomas Greiss was fantastic. He was sharp right from the start, as the Blues had a handful of quality scoring chances in the first five-plus minutes but he stopped every one. He stayed consistent throughout the rest of the game. Yeah, the Blues got a couple goals at the end of the game but that’s more the result of the Pens breaking down in front of him. One of the things that stood out to me about his play was how smart he was in his decision-making in terms of when he challenged and overall, just how aggressive he was against a Blues team that’s got a lot of guys who can put the puck in the net. That’s the sign of a confident goaltender.