So much for revenge...

For what might have been the most highly anticipated game of the year thus far I'm sure it was disappointing for the fans out there, particularly in Boston. But not for the Penguin fans. What we witnessed tonight was the most accurate display of both maturity and discipline. After being handed their six straight loss to the Devils and heading into the most (over) hyped game that I've seen in a while, the Pens did just about everything right all night long.
Threat's of the Bruins taking out Cooke spread like wild fire on the internet, particularly on Twitter. There was even talks about the Bruins taking out Crosby to "make him bleed for the sins of his teammate." Biblical, yet utterly ridiculous. And how did the Penguins respond? Well, for starters we saw some things we haven't seen in a while. Namely a shutout and a Kennedy goal. Likewise an ol' fashion Mike Rupp breakaway goal. Without the services of Geno for the second night in a row, the Pens didn't appear to miss him one bit. To me that's a good thing. You need players to step up like they did when we faced the seemingly endless list of injuries earlier in the season.

The Bruins oddly failed to show up after the Cooke/Thornton fight. Their coach went on record saying the game was more about getting the 2 points rather than revenge. Though it didn't appear that way seeing as the players and the crowd were amped up initially, then Cooke held his own, and all the hype basically disappeared. That showed me they were more interested in getting revenge than winning. Little did they know, in the final analysis the sweetest revenge is a victory.

Lets look at my keys to the game and see how they matched up:
  • Weather the Emotions: An absolute must if you're going to keep your head in the game and your mind on the ice. (I don't think this could have been done any better. Cooke fought Thornton, he held his own, the Bruins were semi-satisfied...the game went on)
  • Forecheck: This is one of the Penguins strengths, though it must be done without sacrificing being out of position. (Dupuis, Poni, Kunitz, TK, Cooke...the list goes on in this category. The pressure in the Boston zone was unprecedented. At one point it seemed they kept the puck in the Bruins zone for a full 4 minutes.)
  • Puck Management: Two big turn overs last night led to two goals, one a shorty. The game was 4-2 near the end, you tell me how well the penguins play when the game is tied. (The Penguins didn't turn the puck over nearly half as much as they did against the Devils. They played the puck real well to each other and protected it.)
  • Back to the Basics: Seemed to me the reason guys were out of position and turning the puck over was because each of them were trying to do too much. They need to do each of their own natural responsibilities well, then go above the call of duty after that has been established. (Fleury was solid in net tonight and got his first shut out of the season. The defense played much better by keeping the crease clean and protecting their own zone. Offensively the game looked easy to them, and that's what we're used to seeing from such a talented group.)

Overall I was very pleased of the outcome of the game. Next the Pens head home to try and get some revenge of their own on Saturday against Carolina. Losing a heart-breaker in OT (right in front of my face forcing me to do the walk of shame through the RBC Center) its time we show once again why we won the Cup last year and they didn't.

* Pictures courtesy of AP Photo/Mary Schwalm

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