I know, I know: It was only the preseason. And I know they were missing their Hart candidate and their
We fucking beat them. 4-1. Without our captain/9,237-time winner of the Norris Trophy and without Henrik Zetterberg, the guy who must still give Sid the Kid nightmares. Ahhhh, vengeance--even meaningless vengeance--is sweet.
We beat them by having our backup goaltender play the entire game. We beat them, despite having an egregious number of giveaways (27, to the Pens' 10). We beat them despite getting outhit by them.
Jimmy Howard played his best game of the preseason yesterday. He made a couple of outstanding saves and even made me relax to the point of not reaching for some liquid courage by the third period. The call that gave Jordan Staal his penalty shot was questionable, but I'm glad it happened; Howard's save on this shot had to be a great confidence-booster, not only for Howard, but for the other guys on the ice, and those of us watching at home.
Derek Meech and Ville Leino each stepped up their game yesterday, as well. Meech got off to a shaky start at the beginning of the first period, but once he snapped out of his coma and began playing like someone who doesn't want to stay in Grand Rapids for the rest of his life, he actually had a decent game; he had a couple of blocked shots and decent hits that stood out. I'm not crazy about him and doubt I ever will be; I definitely won't be mourning his departure, whenever it may be, but while he's here and playing for us (and will inevitably get called up to fill in), I'd appreciate it if he continued to play like he did for the later part of yesterday's game, with some sense of purpose and enthusiasm.
I've been slow to warm to Leino during the past year or so. During most of the preseason, I still didn't feel warm and fuzzy toward him; however, he performed excellently during yesterday's game. In addition to scoring a gritty goal, he made several great passes--or at least attempted some great passes--that show that this guy has a great intuitive sense of placement on the ice. He seemed to position himself for better opportunities during this game than at any other point during the preseason. I just wish I could go five minutes without watching him get knocked off the puck. Grrr...
Did I mention how awesome it was to see Pavel Datsyuk score a goal? I feel like I haven't seen Pasha score in four trillion years. There aren't enough good things to say about his ice vision or his charity in passing the puck to his teammates, but Jesus H. Christ, isn't it great when he gets selfish? I heart this guy.
Not counting yesterday's final score, my favorite aspect of the game HAS to be the fact that the Pens continued the trend of losing their shit when they are trailing. It's one thing to get chippy and fire up your teammates; it's another to start crap between whistles, resulting in ridiculous and purposeless penalties. (See Game 5, 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.) I love, love, LOVE that the Pens still do this. Let's be honest: It's that borderline inappropriate feeling again. Furthermore, I love that
Is it really four months until we meet these guys again?
Bring on the regular season, bitches.