Powder Blues: 1, Critics: 0, Pittsburgh Penguins' Team Effort Brings Team Win

Laura FalconAnalyst IOctober 18, 2009

The Penguins may have gone 3-5-2 last season in their alternative jerseys, but it looks like the Pens have started this season on a positive note when sporting the powder blues.

So much for a curse. 

This game was the first of a five-game homestand, and after going undefeated on the road, everyone and their grandmother knew that this was a crucial game, especially against a team coming off a 7-1 loss. 

Add that speculation to the alternative jersey's lack of effectiveness and you can say the Pens came into this game with a bit of pressure.

Pressure on the Penguins, you ask?  Who would have thought?

Yet, in typical Penguins fashion, the team ate up the speculation for breakfast and were all smiles after the very one-sided match.

This was a huge defensive victory for the Pens as all of the defensemen played their best games of the season, specifically McKee, Gonchar and Letang. 

McKee blocked an unreal seven shots, most of them while on the penalty kill.  His defensive smarts make him one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL.

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Letang looked like he shot out of a rocket every time he went on the counter attack.  He and Goligoski sometimes act like a third winger with the way they play in the neutral zone which has yet to bring negative setbacks to a game.

And Gonchar had a goal and an assist to keep up his reputation as one of the best point-men in the League.  As per usual, his offensive touch does not take away from his defensive game.

I could dwell on the fact that the Pens were one for seven on the power play, got into a ton of penalty trouble and only won 41 percent of their faceoffs, but I won't. 

It wouldn't be fair to the team, to be honest.

That's what the Penguins have really shown to be so far this season.

A team.

You can head over to NHL.com and see who is topping the league leaders lists.  There really isn't much representation coming from the Penguins.  Goligoski is tied for third in plus/minus and Fleury is leading the League with seven wins.

While Fleury's stat is among the more impressive, there is no sign of Crosby or Malkin anywhere on the offensive leaders sheet.

And I'm not complaining.

In the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, we saw both Malkin and Crosby give solid efforts but they hard work rarely converted into points. The Pens still won the Cup because while the Wings threw the kitchen sink at Malkin and Crosby every time they touched the ice, players like Kennedy and Talbot took the reins and got the job done.

Things seem to continue where they left off.

Malkin and Crosby are playing solid, especially Crosby in the faceoff circle, but they aren't putting up the numbers most would expect from them. You could blame that on the fact that it's just the beginning of the season, but it's also because players like Kennedy, Rupp, Staal and Goligoski are chipping in enough to make them arguably just as deadly as a Malkin or Crosby but without the target attached to their backs.

I guess that means that teams can't be formulating their lines around eliminating solely Malkin and Crosby anymore.

If that was Tampa's approach, then it certainly didn't work.

Out of the 11 points awarded to the Pens, only three went to the Two-Headed Monster.  All assists.  Seven other players recorded points.

The bottom line isn't that Crosby and Malkin are playing poorly.

The rest of the Penguins got better.

We learned in the Capitals' and Hurricanes' series last season that having a few good players doesn't win a Stanley Cup.  It's too easy to shadow one to three players. 

But seven or eight?

Not so easy.

Teams can keep their few star players who put up big numbers.

I'm more than happy with my Penguins and their team-play that brings home the Ws.

And they will do it wearing the "cursed" powder blue jerseys as well.

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