At what point does this become absurd? At 15 games? What about 20? Or have we already reached that point?
With Wednesday’s 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Pens have won 11 straight and are 13-0-1 in their last 14 games. Not to mention, Sidney Crosby continued to show why he’s the best player in the world.
The numbers don’t lie: 26 goals and 50 points in 30 games and a 17-game point streak where he’s racked up 20 goals and 15 assists.
Crosby has equaled Alex Ovechkin’s point total for the season during his streak. The only player in the NHL with more than 35 points is Steven Stamkos (40). Think about that for a second. Throw out the first 13 games and Crosby would still be tied for second in the NHL scoring race.
I keep waiting to wake up from some horrible nightmare and realize it’s still the 2005-06 season where the team started out 0-4-5 and didn’t get their first win until Oct. 27.
Their current 11-game streak is more impressive when you consider there are four other teams in the NHL who haven’t even won 11 games this season: Toronto (10), Edmonton (10), New Jersey (8) New York Islanders (5).
In addition, Minnesota, Carolina and Buffalo only have 11 wins this season.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this isn’t even the longest winning streak in franchise history. The 1993 Pens racked up 17 straight en route to a 119 point regular season.
Marc-Andre Fleury has now won 10 straight starts and is 13-6-1 with a 2.33 GAA and .912 save percentage for the year.
As far as last night’s win over Toronto, who would have expected a shorthanded 2-on-0 would have been the turning point in the contest?
Can you even blame Jonas Gustavsson for any of the five goals he allowed?
On the first goal, Kunitz drilled iron behind Gustavsson. Crosby followed on with a post shot of his own that came right back to his stick. He’s not going to miss twice from that range. 1-0 Pens.
The second was the shorthanded 2-on-0 after Francois Beauchemin hesitated to pinch at the Pens’ blue line. Kunitz and Dupuis raced the other way with Dupuis getting the goal after faking a pass back to Kunitz that fooled Gustavsson. 2-0 Pens.
The third goal is the only one I would place some blame on Gustavsson. He stopped a puck behind the net and tried to clear it up the ice. It was held in and worked down low behind the net. Tyler Kennedy stepped out from behind the net and tried to get a shot off while falling down. The puck bounced off a Toronto player in front to a waiting Mark Letestu, who buried it. 3-0 Pens.
The fourth goal was a 2-on-1 with Kunitz and Crosby. As they hit the top of the circles, Kunitz fed one into the wheelhouse and Crosby did the rest. No chance for Gustavsson. 4-0 Pens.
On the fifth goal, Kris Versteeg showed why he’s not a defenseman. Letestu reeled in a puck at the Leafs’ blue line that would have resulted in a 2-on-1 had he received it cleanly. He was still able to knock it down and gain control before making his way to the net. For some reason, Versteeg went to the ice to block a backdoor pass well before he needed to. Letestu closed in and put his shot under he crossbar to seal the deal. 5-2 Pens, drive home safely.
Toronto did make it interesting in the third period by scoring two goals before the 10 minute mark. The Pens were outshot 15-2 in the third period, which is slightly problematic. However, with a four-goal lead, it’s not unexpected.
One thing that wasn’t unexpected was the rematch between Deryk Engelland and Colton Orr.
In their first bout on Oct. 13, Engelland was on the losing end until he rearranged Orr’s face and sent him to the ice with one punch.
While last night’s rematch didn’t result in a knockout, Engelland came away the clear winner by landing a couple of solid right hands.
Speaking of fights, I have a huge problem with what Mike Komisarek pulled in his fight with Mike Rupp in the third period.
Komisarek came to the aid of Phil Kessel after Rupp planted him into the boards. That’s fine. However, when you realize you’re losing a fight, don’t turtle, grab the other guy’s legs, body slam him to the ice and then start throwing punches. Stand up and fight like a man Komisarek.
I’m sure it’s frustrating to play for a team that started out the season showing some promise, only to fall to the basement in the blink of an eye, but this isn’t the WWE.
You always hear talk about the gentleman’s code of fighting and one of the things that is considered to be in poor taste is to keep pounding a guy when he’s on the ice.
Eric Godard landed a punch with Jay Rosehill on the ice during their fight later in the period. Was that perhaps payback for Komisarek breaking the code? Who knows, but you can bet that when these same two teams meet up in Toronto later this season, more fights will take place.
You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CaseySheaPens