Since Michel Therrien implemented the 1-2-2 trap the Pittsburgh Penguins have been a totally different team.
Rangers 0 — Penguins 3
It started in Philadelphia and the Pens won, 4-2, and started what has now become a string of three wins in the last four games. And had the Pens not spent so much time in the box in the third period against Washington, a 6-3 loss, they could be riding a four-game win streak.
The Penguins are proving that you don’t necessarily need the best players in the league to win hockey games. What you do need is a commitment to an effective system.
With Sidney Crosby, Rob Scuderi and Kris Letang back in the lineup for today’s win over New York, it’s apparent that the Pens are committed to this new, defense-first mentality.
The game started off with the Penguins out-working the Rangers. Most of the first period was controlled by Pittsburgh. The Rangers never seemed to have control of the puck for very long and quickly found themselves in a hole.
Chris Minard parked himself in the slot and got a nice pass from Petr Sykora for the goal, just 7:35 in to the game. It was a call-up contribution, if you will.
The Pens have been playing with an entire line of players from Wilkes-Barre. They have adopted the new system as quickly as everyone else on the team and haven’t missed a beat.
Tyler Kennedy sniped another past Henrik Lundqvist before the end of the period and the Pens were in total control. Petr Sykora added the third and final goal 7:32 in to the second period and the scoring was finished.
Any win over a divisional team is huge, but even more so when you play the division leader. Add on to that the fact that the Pens had not won against the Blue Shirts yet this season and you’ve got yourself two quite pivotal points.
So where do we stand now?
Well, the Pittsburgh Penguins are back in the playoff picture. If the post-season started today they would be the eighth seed and face the Boston Bruins in the first round. Luckily, there are 35 games left.
The Penguins are fourth in the Atlantic Division still, but have closed the gap with New York to eight points. Also, they are seven points behind New Jersey and Philadelphia.
The current homestand continues for two more games. On Tuesday Carolina comes to Mellon Arena and then the Rangers are back again on Wednesday.
Four more points, another two against the Rangers, would do wonders for this team and its playoff aspirations.
Chris | PPT