Pittsburgh Penguins: Finally Healthy and Making a Strong Statement to the NHL

Joe Heidkamp@@Joe_HeidkampContributor IMarch 16, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 15:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins slides across the ice alongside Steve Eminger #44 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 15, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The boo birds were out in full force tonight in Madison Square Garden as Sidney Crosby and the Penguins faced off against the New York Rangers.

Crosby, who had been out with a neck injury and concussion-like symptoms played a solid game, recording one assist and a plus three rating. The things that stood out the most about Crosby's game tonight usually don't show up on the scoreboard.

Sid played just sixteen minutes, winning eleven of twenty two faceoffs, including an offensive zone faceoff that led to a Pascal Dupuis goal. His puck control in the offensive zone was great, leading to a Chris Kunitz goal, and his lone assist. Crosby's net front presence was highly noticeable all game, and factored into one of Matt Cooke's two goals. On top of those, Crosby's help along the boards in the defensive zone is something the Penguins have missed terribly.

Though Crosby's play was a welcome sight, it was overshadowed by the dominant play of defenseman Kris Letang, who also returned to the lineup tonight after missing five games with concussion-like symptoms. Letang was on the ice for all of the Penguins goals, and none of the Rangers goals, ending the game with a plus five rating and tallying one assist. Letang played strong in the defensive end as well as the offensive, racking up almost twenty five minutes of ice time, and playing what might have been his most solid defensive game all year.

The Penguins made a statement tonight, having an all around solid game from the entire lineup, getting goals from Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, the NHL's leading scorer Evgeni Malkin, and from Matt Cooke, who recorded his third two goal game of the season. Perhaps the top performer of the night was Marc-Andre Fleury, who made twenty nine saves on the night, including a breath taking save on John Mitchell.

The Penguins win tonight against the Rangers extends their winning streak to ten straight. With Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang healthy once again, Marc-Andre Fleury having by far his best season, and Evgeni Malkin leading the league in points, the Penguins are looking to take the NHL and the world by storm once again.

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