The Penguins did a lot of things right on their way to a 6-2 victory over the New York Rangers Wednesday.
First, they were able to gain ground in their division. Every point is now critical to be able to gain a playoff spot. Management will not accept anything short of a spot in the playoffs. It is actually built into the team budget.
Second, they were able to finally play the kind of game they have been successful at and capable of from the beginning of this season and all last year. They put the puck on the net in a consistent manner. They were able to kill penalties as well as score on the power play.
A total team effort was evident tonight from steady goaltending, strong defense, and a potent offense. The only weakness that needs work is they need to put the puck on the net even more than tonight and they need to create more traffic in front of the net.
Kris Letang finally had the breakout game that has long been overdue. He played with confidence coming off a successful Young Stars appearance in Montreal. He scored two critical goals tonight and appears to have gained the confidence he has been lacking this whole season.
It appears that, because of the Pens play before the All-Star break and after tonight's performance, the sense of urgency for Shero to make some kind of move isn't as strong. This is a good thing because it allows all those involved to breathe a little easier.
The Penguins aren't out of the woods yet. There are two critical road games coming up this weekend against the Devils and Leafs.
If they can play at the pace they played tonight, and get scoring from the third and fourth lines, things will be looking up. If they can come away with victories in both contests, team confidence will catch fire and a playoff spot would be theirs.