The former Leaf appeared to cut his arm while blocking a shot from a Boston defenceman but despite what Evanka Osmak thinks, he did return to that game. Pony has been able to make space for Malkin with his big body and has created scoring chances when parking his caboose in front of the net.
Although he has played well, he needs to show he can do it consistently, which he could not prove in Toronto. Having a one-two punch in the Crosby and Malkin lines will make Pittsburgh a tough team to beat. Also, having Jordan Staal as a third-line center is not too shabby either.
As for their special teams, Pittsburgh has always been a good penalty-killing team and Ponikarovsky can be a big body in front of the net which could help their ailing power play. Really it doesn’t make any sense a team which the likes of Gonchar, Crosby and Malkin have trouble scoring with a man-advantage but whatever!
And just for the record, Leopold has been fitting in just fine with Pittsburgh’s D-core. Not only does he have an assist and a +5 rating in three games, but his sound defensive game has improved Pittsburgh’s breakout and 5-on-5 play.
With their 2-1 against Boston Sunday, Pittsbrgh is now on a four-game winning streak, and have taken sole position of the Atlantic with a five point lead over New Jersey. However, the Devils do hold three games in hand.
Pittsburgh will now embark on a five game road-trip that will see them play Carolina, Tampa Bay, Boston once against and the Devils in two marquee matchups at the Izod Center.
If we take a look around the Eastern Conference, Pittsburgh is one of the few playoff teams without question marks in between the pipes.
Philadelphia failed to pick up a number one goalie at the trade deadline and unless Michael Leighton can have a Cam Ward esque playoff, things will not be so shiny in Philly.
As for the Caps, while having arguably the most explosive offence in the league, they do not have a clear number one in goal. Varlamov and Theodore have shown moments of brilliance but have been far too inconsistent for a team hoping to compete for the Cup.
Ditto for the Senators who have two goalies that have been teetering between brillance and shame. Brian Elliot came into the season as the back-up but because of Pascal Leclaire’s injuries and less than stellar play, the former Binghamton Senator has been able to get into the discussion as the teams number one. But since coming back from the Olympic break, Ottawa is yet to put a notch in the win column. Leclaire played well against Toronto in the teams overtime loss and the Sens will need more of that for him to earn his number on spot.
Let’s see what happens!
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Written by Amit Mann