Dear James Neal,
It's me, the Pittsburgh Penguins power play. Don't worry, you're not crazy (I tired talking to Alex Goligoski but he didn't listen . . . irony). I just can not thank you enough. Since your WWE-esque return November 2nd against the St. Louis, you've practically reinvented me. Aside from Evgeni Malkin, there is no one more happy to see your name on the lineup sheet than I am. Because let's face it, since you've been gone (now where have I heard that before?) I've been mostly pathetic.
During your month long absence I was a wreck. Flawed from top to bottom with bad passing, lack of setup, not engendering shots, zero net front presence, and no scoring. For a week, I was buried in a 1-15 slump that included a oh-for-seven against the Colorado Avalanche. The Pens were not looking sharp and I was a major reason why.
Than you came back and now . . . whoopie!
In fourteen games you've tallied nineteen points. If that wasn't crazy enough, ten of those points have come during me. James do you realize that you've marked at least one PPP on the stat-sheet in seven of the last nine games? That means the Pens have scored on the power play in seven of the last nine games. By the way, the Penguins have won seven of the last nine games. Coincidence? Ha!
And you're a/the big part of that. Your slapper on the right side is as feared as the Mongolian horde and now that Geno's firing a battery from the left side . . . can you say matchup problems? And when Geno is not in the lineup (like yesterday against the San Jose Sharks) you're filling into in other aspects. Sidney Crosby passes the puck to you along the far wall and you drove it straight to the net like Earnhardt to the finish line. You didn't score, but Chris Kunitz sure did off your rebound. See what happens when you go to the net?
Look don't let me blow smoke up your pads. The proof is in the numbers. I'm now the number rated power play in the NHL, clicking at 26.5%. So keep up the good work James and hopefully Geno will come back soon. If you ask me, there's a Three-headed monster in the Steel City and it scares the NHL more than the one that visits Tokyo from time to time.
Thank you again, James!
The Penguins Power Play
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