Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box of the Penguins' 6-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
1. CROSBY TAKES OVER
My first impression: Sidney Crosby is a hockey god. I mean, where to even start? He completely took over, scoring twice and adding a couple assists for a four-point evening. No big deal, just another day at the office – which is what's so impressive about his performance. He's been having a lot of nights like this as of late. As head coach Mike Sullivan put it, "I think his game is at another level and it’s consistent. It’s not just sporadic." Not to mention both goals couldn’t have been more highlight-reel, as both came on breakaways. It’s a blast to watch him play like this, but especially after all the criticism he took at the beginning of the year for his relatively slow start. He was so dominant that you almost didn’t feel Evgeni Malkin’s absence. If the Pens want to continue being successful without ‘Geno’ and keep gaining traction in the standings, they need Crosby to keep having nights like this. So far, so good.
2. SPEED KILLS
It’s only fitting that Carl Hagelin got his first goal as a Penguin against the team that traded him just under a month ago – and the play was a perfect example of why Pittsburgh acquired him. The winger’s game-changing speed alone has made the entire team faster, something they needed as the group had definitely gotten slower before he joined. He’s so dangerous with the way he can explode into open ice, and tonight, we saw him use that incredible skating to create a chance. And he finished it with a nice display of hands, as he deked to his backhand and lifted a shot into the top of the net. Overall, the Pens did a tremendous job all night of using that team speed to their advantage against the big, physical Ducks. They continually put the puck into open space and then won footraces to it.
3. FLEURY RESPONDS
Marc-Andre Fleury looked back to his old self in this game. Admittedly, his last two starts coming out of the All-Star break weren’t his strongest performances as he gave up 9 goals on 37 shots – with a few of those being ones he’d definitely want back. But tonight, the netminder looked sharp and strong right from the beginning of the night and afterward, he said he felt much better in this game. He was making every save – both the routine stops and the dazzling ones – and was tracking the puck really well. Overall, it was a tremendous bounce-back game for the Flower.