The Pittsburgh Grinders…err…Penguins showed a lot of character in a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3.
While the goal-scorers on the team need to start burying pucks, different guys are stepping up every night.
Last night, Max Talbot and Arron Asham scored 45 seconds apart in the first period to put the Penguins up 2-0.
Even though Steve Downie turned Ben Lovejoy into road-kill behind the Penguins’ net, he took the hit to make the play that led to Talbot’s goal.
It was one of those hits where you wanted to yell, “Look out!” but you only had enough time to make some odd guttural noise before saying, “I hope he’s okay.”
Downie had a phone hearing with the NHL about the hit today and only got a one-game ban. How a guy with as checkered a past in the league only gets one game, completely boggles my mind, but whatever.
However, this is the NHL we’re talking about. At this point, I’m convinced the league rents the big wheel from “Wheel of Fortune” and changes the cash amounts to different kinds of punishments. Just picture Colin Campbell and Gary Bettman spinning the wheel for a minute. If it doesn’t bring a smile to your face, I don’t know what will.
Inconsistency doesn’t seem to properly explain their previous judgments on questionable hits around the league.
The telling point is that Kunitz also received a one-game suspension for an elbow to the head of Simon Gagne.
These suspensions have left me wanting answers to three questions.
First, would Downie’s suspension have been longer if Kunitz hadn’t dropped the elbow? In other words, is this the league slapping both players on the wrist without altering the series by suspending one longer than the other?
Secondly, does someone have to get hurt to levy a proper suspension?
Lastly, Matt Cooke was made an example of for his elbow to the head of Rangers’ defenseman Ryan McDonagh. He was suspended for the final 10 games of the regular season and for the first round of the playoffs. After everything he’s done in the past, I didn’t have a problem with it.
So, when other repeat offenders around the league violate the rules, why aren’t they getting stiff suspensions? Is it only because we’re in the playoffs that the league is shying away?
Anyway, this series in mind-boggling from a special teams standpoint.
Tampa Bay has scored four times on the power play in this series and has killed off all 15 man advantages for the Penguins.
Normally, that would lead you to believe that Tampa Bay should be the ones with the 2-1 series lead.
Again, the Penguins keep finding ways to will themselves to victory.
Marc-Andre Fleury stole the show in Game 1, while the grinders went to work in Game 3. Last night was a total team effort and that’s what you need to be successful in the playoffs.
Even after an awful penalty on Alex Kovalev in the first period that led to Tampa Bay’s first goal, the Penguins just kept working.
By awful penalty, I am clearly referring to the call itself. Kovalev was cross-checked into Roloson, but the refs missed that key component to the play.
Had the Penguins gone on to lose that game by a goal, that call would be the only thing any of us would be talking about today.
Maybe Dan Bylsma will pull a page out of Guy Boucher’s playbook and complain to the refs so the Pens get some fortunate calls in Game 4.
As far as the power play is concerned, the Penguins actually looked like a threat to score on it in Game 3.
The entries into the zone were mostly clean, they were able to set up and pucks were getting to the net. You can’t ask for much more than that. Roloson came up with a couple of big saves to rob the Penguins of sure goals, but if they keep working on this new approach, pucks will start to go in.
I don’t know why I was so nervous in the third period. I completely nailed my game day routine. I should have known it was in the bag. The insanity that is my life starts up again in a couple hours.
Don’t anyone change a thing from what you did prior to and during Game 3!
You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CaseySheaPens.