After a nearly half a season bashing Granato, FG and their crew, I must admit they did something right. Wojtek Wolski is a center and needs to stay there. 1 goal and 1 assist against the Pens, and 2 goals the previous game against the Blackhawks. 4 points in two games isn't too shabby for any player. Keep him there, in fact it wouldn't hurt my feelings, if he can keep it up, if he stayed there when Stastny returns.
Next up is the play of Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk. These wings were given the job of shutting down Crosby and Malkin. Both managed to get on the score board but Smyth made it a point to back check and get stopping them from developing much in the offensive zone. Something that never gets mentioned about Hejduk is his ability to take a check, and continue the play. He took a hit from Orpik, but finished his pass, as well as finishing the game. He isn't the type of player to lay a guy out in the middle of the ice, but his steady physical presence along the boards provides solid defensive play. Also note tonight on Wolski's goal how he was screening the goalie, not an easy place to play.
Raycroft again won, he didn't have to steal this game, but was steady enough to win. Crosby's goal was through the 5 hole and something he probably wanted back. The Malkin goal was just a plain good play by the Pens and I can't hold him responsible for that one. The Staal goal was a good shot, and should have never happened because it was short handed. That is the teams fault as much as it is the goalies.
Scott Hannan played very well. He made Malkin hate him. That is the guy that I remember the Avs playing against. He used his size and made an impression on Malkin early in the game. Along the boards above the hashes he made a "clean" play to knock Malkin's stick out of his hand.
Growing up playing the game I was taught there are gray areas in the game. Some of those were cut out with the rule changes, but they are still there. Hannan has the ability to play in those gray areas and this team needs to see that every night. If you watch him closely you will see what I am talking about.
Even with solid play I don't see this team doing any damage in the playoffs if they can manage to make it. The reason simply being that specialty teams play is awful. They gave up a short handed goals, and the power play goal was just ugly digging in front of the net. Next they gave up a power play goal on the only chance the Pens were given. If the Avs want to make some noise they need to make the power play a point of severe remedy. Find a way to make it better.
David Jones had a great game. He is fast and can push the play, tonight he bought in to the crashing the net theory, and was rewarded with two goals. He needs to keep that play up, he is young and tends be an up and down player right now. Stewart hasn't made any noise in a while and I have a feeling that the coaching staff i wanting more out of him. He has fore checked well, but needs to contribute on the score board as well.
Hensick looks fast as late. He is playing with big guys, and I think he has been surprised with how much space his is getting. His post clank tonight was beautiful, minus the not scoring part. So close yet so far. He did shoot more tonight, which is what the staff wants from him.
Arnason disappeared as is usually the case. He needs to be waived, send him down to wake him up. I think I need to find a count up timer to the last time he scored a goal.
Another piece that shows how young this team is their record. Not the number of wins, but the consistency of the wins. 3 losses then 3 wins. They have to learn how to be winners every night, bring that consistency back up.
Overall a very good team game. Wolski and Jones stole the show, but the committment to defense made the game a lot of fun to watch. Keep it up Avs, we are enjoying watching.