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Crosby’s Hat Trick, Strong Defensive Effort Puts Pens over Thrashers

Posted By Michael Watts On Dec 3 2010 @ 12:26 am In Pittsburgh Penguins | No Comments

He is absolutely unstoppable.  Sidney Crosby has added yet another feather to his cap.  Not a bad way to start the month of December.  Crosby scored three goals (a natural hat trick, the first of his career) just two days after being named the first star of the month of November.  Here are some notes from the final game stats, as the Pens defeated the Atlanta Thrashers 3-2 at the Consol Energy Center tonight.

Scoring Summary -

Thrashers scored first at 6:21 in the first period.  Little scored the first PP goal against the Pens since OCTOBER.  Letang was a stick lift away from avoiding the goal, but the Pens will just have to start another 40-penalty kill streak…

Then Crosby went off.   He scored one in the first period to knot the game up, but added a pair in the second.  He has been literally unstoppable – as he sent his point streak to 14 games (29 points in that span).   One assist from Kunitz tonight, another from Kris Letang (19!), with Asham, Orpik, and Engelland also working their way into the scoring column.  Crosby now has 21 goals.  More on Sid later.

The final goal was scored late in the second, giving the Thrashers some life as they entered intermission down 3-2.  The way the Pens have been playing, though, the final hardly seemed in doubt.  The defense locked down Atlanta in the final period, allowing only 5 (FIVE) shots.

-Some notes on the post game stats-

-Arron Asham isn’t afraid to drop the gloves like he did in the first period.   He dropped the gloves against Thorburn like he has against so many other adversaries in the past.  You don’t rack up 126 and 155 PIM over the past two years without a little mean streak.  Good to see someone other than Engelland or Godard dropping the gloves once in a while.

-The Pens finished with 28 shots.  Not an astounding number, but with Crosby putting three in on his own, it was enough tonight.  They got good opportunities, which doesn’t necessarily show up in the SOG column.  As for the Thrashers, they had 22.

-Lovejoy, Comrie, and Godard were the scratches tonight for the Pens, hardly a surprise anymore.  It’s fair to say that Comrie – after an outstanding preseason – is either in the doghouse or a complete bust.  Still, Shero signed Comrie to a low paying deal late in the offseason, and the Pens haven’t come to need him – so it’s a bit of a wash.

-Fluery did enough tonight.  20/22 saves is good enough to win games most nights.  He played a solid game and got rewarded with win #10 (9th in the NHL).  His GAA is now 2.44 (12th in the league).  Still, he has a .908 save percentage (29th in the league), meaning he is taking less shots, not making more saves than the other goaltenders in the league.  All of these numbers are BETTER THAN LAST YEAR.  Hopefully he can sustain this, because this is what we expect from Fluery.  The occasional mind blowing save, but always being in the game and usually winning at the end regardless of what happens in between the first whistle and the last.

-SOG tonight for the Pens – five for Letang, five for Crosby, four for Kennedy, and ZERO, yes ZERO for Evgeni Malkin.  Malkin took only two faceoffs tonight, losing them both.  Malkin leads the league in shots on goal – it was stunning to see the stat sheet at the end of the game and realize he was non existent in the faceoff and shots column.

-The Thrashers were led by Dustin Byfuglien in shots.  He took three shots in the first, and DIDN’T SHOOT AGAIN.  That was a complete shutdown of the opposing team’s top scorer.   Ladd, the second leading scorer – had only one shot, coming in the third period.  The Pens defense right now is a thing of beauty.

- Letang was on the ice for both Thrashers goals tonight, but he ends up even in the plus minus column.  Orpik was his linemate when the Thrashers scored in the third.  Martin was the linemate on the first period power play goal.

- More on Sidney Crosby -

-Crosby won 12/21 faceoffs, including 8/12 against Rich Peverley.  This was his first 50% or higher faceoff percentage game since the Panthers game.  Good to see him rebound tonight.

-He lit the lamp with 3 of 5 shots.  He is scoring on 20% of his shot attempts.  That is a thoroughly rediculous number for a guy who is on pace for over 300 shots.  Speaking of total shots, his career high was last year with 298, looks like he is going to shatter that number.

-I have long said that Crosby does more (points) with less (shots, talent) than Alexander Ovechkin.  This season he is getting a similar number of shots, and he is scoring at a higher pace.  Better yet – Ovie is playing on a line with Backstrom and Semin.  Crosby has Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz…  Love them both, but the talent discrepancy is there.

Semin is scoring about 80 points a year and Backstrom had 101 last year.  Semin, Ovechkin, and Backstrom each have 31, 33, and 30 points respectively.  For the Pens, Dupuis is on pace for about 40 points, Kunitz for 50 for the season..  Crosby is asked to score and he does. Ovie is asked to score, and he is one of three 80+ point scorers on the ice at any given time (not to mention Carlson and Green who are each on pace for 40-50 points this season).  That said, Crosby’s ability to make the Penguins a winner every season, his ability to play with any line combination (he had Guerin last year, he started with Letestu this year before Dupuis stepped in), and the outrageous numbers he has put up this year make him the best player in the league right now.  Better than Stamkos (with St. Loius), better than Ovechkin (with Semin and Backstrom), and better than the Sedin brothers.

- I’d love you hear your comments!  Leave them below! -

- Go Pens -

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