In my last post, I argued that Marc-Andre Fleury was not the fault line upon which the Penguins fractured in Game 3 against the Ottawa Senators. The team needed to give its goaltender a few pucks in the net and the blue line had to stiffen up.
The Pens did both in Game 4, winning 3-2.
Ollie Maatta opened up the scoring on a 3-on-2 and Brian Dumoulin notched the eventual game-winner. Trevor Daley quarterbacked the power play instead of Mark Streit, and he finally looked healthy (or as healthy as you can get after knee surgery and a hit from Tom Wilson), skating crisply.
On 5v5 play, the Pens established their beachhead with a sustained forecheck, consistent puck possession, and a conviction to pepper Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson with shots. As for the underachieving power play, Sidney Crosby notched a goal.
The goaltender situation grabbed the headlines, but despite the coverage, it’s a locked down situation. Matt Murray was a number one goaltender going into the playoffs and he will finish it as so.
The team finally gave its goaltender a robust lead to work with, and like an ace pitcher with solid run support, Murray stopped 24 of 26 shots and secured the win.
It’s tempting to wonder if Fleury would still be in net if the team had filled the net with a few extra pucks in the first half of this series, but that’s neither here nor there. He payed generous dividends on goaltender insurance this postseason, getting the team to the conference finals.
Now Matt Murray will look to finish the playoffs as he did last year: raising the Stanley Cup.
In my opinion, the goaltender play, regardless of who’s in net, is not the story here. The oft-injured and oft-criticized blue line (for legitimate reasons, mind you) delivered in a critical game. Via the its aggressiveness and some puck, the Pens’ defensemen poked a few holes in Craig Anderson.
Murray or Fleury, the blue line must deliver. If it continues to do so, the team just might find itself dancing with Lord Stanley once more.
Kevin Cochrane is a writer and college student. Like what you read? Follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC, find him on Facebook, or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to get Town Crier’s latest updates. Want to read more? Visit his blog at restandrefuge.wordpress.com which offers a Christian perspective on the surrounding culture. You can contact him with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.