I’ll start by not apologizing for the “meh” pun in the title. In that same vein, the Pens won’t apologize for not rolling over when their roster becomes even more depleted than usual. With Jeff Carter (Covid Protocol) added to the growing list of players that can’t be on the ice, the game against Toronto was already going to be interesting. Then, on Saturday morning, news broke that Letang would be entering Covid Protocol and not available. This meant facing Toronto without: Crosby, Malkin, Carter, Rust, Letang. (AKA: All of their centers and top D-man). OOOF.
However, as I mentioned in my last article, this Pens team shows up to play the game regardless of who is available and what the odds of winning are. While the Pens did have lots of opportunity in the first half, you can tell the connections just weren’t there. Understandably so, given that the only line to not be changes is the McGinn-Blueger-ZAR line. The first goal is even more indicative of this, as a shot by Marcus Petterson is deflected off the hip of a jumping O’Conner.
The Maple Leafs did quickly respond with a goal by Jason Spezza about a minute later, but that would be all that Toronto could muster. From the start of the 2nd period, the Pens just put on a parade of 6 more goals to win 7-1. Which included a second goal for O’Connor, and 4 points from Petterson. The Pens get a few days off before facing Tampa at home on Tuesday night.
The Quick Break
- The Pens resiliency is already making NHL history. Through the first 5 games, 14 different platers have scored at least 1 goal. Only 2 teams in NHL history has had more: the ’83-’84 North Stars (16) and the ’85-’86 Flames (15).
- Drew O’Conner is showing is worth on the ice and currently leads all rookies with goals (3) and is tied with Anton Lundell of the Panthers for most points (5). It’s still early, but if O’Conner would win rookie of the Year, it would the the first time since 2007 that a Penguin won the Calder, and only the 3rd overall (Lemieux ’85 and Malkin ’07) .
- Without their stars, the Pens are a surprisingly good team. Tied with Edmonton for Goals For (23), top 5 in Goals Against (11), and their Power Kill (92.3%) is third in the league.