Assistant coach Gary Agnew gives his three impressions from the bench of the Penguins’ 4-0 against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.
1. Marc-Andre (Fleury) had a great night again. Some of the saves he made, especially in the third period, were outstanding. His athleticism was great. I thought he was in control of the game.
2. Sid’s line was really good. Kunitz and Perron did a heck of a job. Of course, Sid with the points. Had a lot of speed through the neutral zone and really put them on their heels.
3. The penalty kill did a great job, particularly in the second period when we were losing defensemen quickly to injury. We had a lot of guys battling to get through that. Lack of whistles fatigued us quickly. We scrambled through it and did a good job.
Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box.
The best phrase to sum up the 60 minutes the Pens put together against Calgary is "fundamentally sound." Some of the mistakes that had crept into their game (turnovers, forcing plays, misplaying transitions) were not present. Their reads, passing and puck movement were flawless. They made the smart plays, even the simple play when needed. The Pens have put together six solid periods on this Western Canadian trip, and showed how dangerous this team is when it’s healthy and executing.
The Pens’ transition attack was excellent. Their speed overwhelmed the Flames, who continually backed off in a preventive posture as the game continued. Calgary had no answer for the Pens’ precision passing and speed up ice. Pittsburgh generated a lot of chances off of rush plays. When the Pens are using their speed and passing effectively it allows their possession game to flourish.
The triumvirate of Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, and David Perron has been playing excellent hockey over the past several games. It was only a matter of time before they had a real breakout game. They combined for three goals, eight points and 12 shots. You can see the chemistry really developing between the three. On the line’s second goal, all three telepathically read the play before it developed. Perron chipped off the wall to a streaking Kunitz. Crosby jump up, anticipating Perron’s chip, and beat his man to the net. Kunitz made the perfect feed for Crosby’s one-armed re-direct. But the play developed because of the chemistry of the three.
“They’re starting to read off of each other offensively and defensively,” head coach Mike Johnston said, “making sure that the first guy back is comfortable being low. Then Sid will switch with them. That’s what happens when lines develop chemistry, they’re in sync like that.”