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Pens vs. Bolts; Press Box Nachos November 25




–It was a disappointment that the 2-time Cup champs and Lightning, who are currently the best in the NHL, didn’t get a 5 on 5 slugfest. It would have been a real treat AND a measuring stick for the Penguins.

By the time the game settled into 5 on 5 play midway through the second period, the intensity of the game had waned. Coincidentally, that’s also about the same time Penguins fans began leaving. Guess they had to clean the oven? Get up for mass? Leftover Black Friday Sales at the all-night Walmart?

–Penguins fans, and perhaps the team, may want to use the game as a sign that all is clear. It is not. One win, especially with a trio of two-man advantage goals didn’t demonstrate the Penguins are “back” or have “turned the corner”.

It was one game…with a couple iffy penalties. I was surprised by both of the “extra” minors which gave the Penguins a 5-on-3.

–Riley Sheahan has learned at least one trick to success: Feed Phil. Like Tyler Bozak and Nick Bonino before him, Sheahan is racking up points by passing to Phil Kessel and letting the American Sniper do his thing.

Sheahan will have to eventually play on the other side of the redline, but for now, his defensive game, coupled with Kessel’s hot streak is showing promising results.

When Evgeni Malkin returns, the coaches could load Malkin with Rust and Carl Hagelin, and keep Guentzel and Kessel with Sheahan. Sullivan does like a balanced lineup.

– We’ve said it before here (it’s nothing new), but he plays big like Murray, but also has great athleticism. I’d like to see the Penguins make more starts for Jarry. The kid has earned it.

He propelled the Penguins to the win. Huge saves on the Steve Stamkos breakaway, on Ondrej Palat in front, and again on Kucherov on the doorstep lifted the Penguins. If one or more of those shots went in–as they should have–it would have been a much different game.

Tampa Bay was victimized by soft goaltending. Peter Budaj had a great run behind the merciless shot suppression L.A. Kings, last season. However, Budaj has regressed to the mean without being shielded. Before Saturday, he had 3.33 goals against and .873 save percentage.

The NHL schedule and back-to-backs are killing backup goalie numbers!

–I’ll happily eat every bite of crow watching Phil Kessel play hockey. His game is rounded, though not physical. His scoring is timely. He has earned every bit of praise which Mike Sullivan has tossed his way.

It’s a testament to Kessel and Sullivan.

–Ryan Reaves played less than four minutes. Tell me why he was in the lineup against Tampa Bay? Reaves and the fourth line occasionally show themselves to be present, but not nearly enough. Reaves will be needed against Philadelphia, Monday, but his hockey prowess is in question. This isn’t the Reaves the Penguins touted, and I believed, they were getting.

Greg McKegg played only six minutes. In a 4-0, and 5-1 game, the fourth line should have seen considerable ice time. Especially in a back-to-back.

–Get the Post Game recap from PPG Paints Arena here

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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