The Pittsburgh Penguins ran into another force Thursday night in the Tampa Bay Lightning losing, 5-4. Here are the Three Takeaways.
Ruhwedel Is A Solid Player
Chad Ruhwedel is a great fit as a seventh defenseman. I love the offensive upside he brings as he recorded two assists in this game. His second assist was a home run pass from just near his own goaltender that found Conor Sheary‘s stick for a breakaway goal. He also just brings a calming and solid presence defensively that can’t be mistaken. He only draws into the line up due to the Ian Cole injury but he should have the seventh defensemen job locked up for this season.
Backup Goalies Deserve Respect
Poor, Antti Niemi. I, for one, actually don’t disapprove of his play in this game. He was exactly what a back up goalie in the NHL is. He made some really big, unexpected saves while allowing a softie or two. The Penguins’ defense was just porous. They allowed way too many high quality chances and had many costly turnovers. The score of this game could’ve truthfully rivaled the Blackhawks game. Niemi made some huge saves throughout the night. The team in-front of him played the previous night and traveled from Washington to Tampa Bay immediately following Wednesday night’s game. He got a pretty raw deal.
Tampa Bay Is A Very Good Team
Don’t kid yourself. There is a pretty good chance that the Lightning are the other Eastern Conference favorites this season. This team possesses way too much talent to act like they aren’t legitimate. With an offense spearheaded by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, not many teams can brag about a two-headed monster that potent. Victor Hedman is one of the best defensemen in the NHL and he’s got veterans like Anton Stralman and Dan Girardi on the back end with him. Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the more premier young goaltenders in the league and he showed why with many brilliant saves Thursday. Don’t sleep on this team. If the Penguins want to three-peat, they are going to almost assuredly have to go through Tampa Bay.