Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Add in a scarcity of scoring — and the fact that Crosby had counted just one goal in 19 post-season games prior to Saturday night — few were willing to give the Penguins a chance to advance past the opening round.
Little surprise, then, that Crosby’s two-goal effort in Saturday’s hugely significant 4-3 win at Madison Square Garden has taken a lick out of whatever self-doubt may have been eating at the team.
And with the series shifting back to the Steel City for Games 3 and 4, there is once again a glimmer of hope for the Penguins.
“Obviously we need (Crosby) to be a threat offensively and he’s been that through two games,” Pittsburgh centre Brandon Sutter said following a team meeting at the Consol Energy Center where the best-of-seven series will resume on Monday.
“He’s had the puck a lot, held on to a lot. When he has the puck down low and is spinning in the corners and making plays, that’s when he is so dominant.”
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
To a man, the Rangers understood the Penguins would play with desperation following their Game 1 defeat at the Garden on Thursday.
Who wouldn’t have?
Thus, an intelligent man or woman — or I — would have expected the Blueshirts, whose work ethic and attention to detail were unassailable throughout their Presidents’ Trophy-winning regular season, would have been committed to matching the Penguins’ Hunger Game for Saturday’s encore on Broadway.
Not even close.
“I don’t think we got up to our standard,” Mats Zuccarello said after the Game 2, 4-3 defeat that wasn’t close to that close. “I think everybody has to step it up.”
The Rangers’ execution was wanting, but it was the effort that was most disappointing.
from Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
The Penguins can only hope their superstars find their way in the postseason as they prepare for Game 2 of their first-round series against the heavily favored New York Rangers on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
“Guys with that kind of talent,” right wing Blake Comeau said, “you can only contain them for so long.”
They have been contained for quite some time, though.
Jarring numbers surround Crosby and Malkin entering Saturday's game.
Crosby has scored one goal in his previous 19 postseason games. In 13 career playoff games against Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, he has scored once.
Malkin's numbers in recent playoff seasons are marginally better. Although he did produce a hat trick while eliminating Columbus last season, Malkin has been held without a point in 11 of his past 21 postseason games. Malkin has multiple-goal games in three of his previous 56 playoff appearances.
via the NHL YouTube channel,
The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins squared off in Game 1 of the their series. Listen in as microphones pick up the action on the ice.
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The Penguins, who started what figures to be a short spring, showed up in Gotham as a convincing facsimile of the Penguins you've come to know and mourn.
"We didn't do it early enough tonight," Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy said in the losing dressing room. "But we feel we have the guys in the room to do it."
Well, that's one of us.
A team that hasn't scored four times in the same hockey game since March 12 scored its usual one or two, this time one to be precise, and only the functional brilliance of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, particularly in a second-period cadenza in which he turned back all 14 New York Rangers shots, kept the inaugural episode of their Eastern Conference playoffs from reaching its fully prescribed ugliness.
So much for the working theory that the Penguins, removed from their customary brain-locking Stanley Cup-or-bust postseason approach, would benefit from the urgent simplicity of just trying to, you know, win a hockey game.
from Pat Pickens of the New York Times,
They may have a roster that includes Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury, but these Pittsburgh Penguins are different.
Renowned for their skill, the Penguins are used to being the hunted and not the hunters. They had won their division the last two years and had finished first or second in their division (now the Metropolitan, previously the Atlantic) every season since 2006-7.
But this season, Mike Johnston’s first as coach, the Penguins finished 18th in the N.H.L. in goals, scoring 2.7 per game. They narrowly reached the postseason, finishing fourth in their division, and are considered a heavy underdog in their series with the Rangers, which begins Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Still, the Rangers are not taking their rivals lightly.
“They’re a very dangerous team on their transition,” defenseman Dan Girardi said. “Coming through the neutral zone on an odd-man rush or with speed, they obviously have Crosby and Malkin, guys who can control the game.”
A healthy Crosby is a primary concern for the Rangers. This season, in which he had to deal with mumps and a variety of linemates, Crosby registered 84 points — third-most in the league — in only 77 games.
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Go ahead, blame the Penguins’ injuries and illnesses, the 337 man-games lost. Blame Olli Maatta’s shoulder problem, Pascal Dupuis’ blood clot, Kris Letang’s concussion and Christian Ehrhoff’s concussion. Blame the fact the team has been without three of its top four defensemen for a significant time down the stretch and had to play again Friday night against the New York Islanders with just five defensemen for the sixth time because of salary-cap mismanagement. Those are valid reasons the Penguins are fighting for their playoff lives after losing to the Islanders, 3-1, at Consol Energy Center in front of a sellout crowd that practically booed them off the ice.
But there will be no legitimate excuse should the Penguins lose tonight at Buffalo and be eliminated. The Sabres are the NHL’s worst team. They are the Penguins’ safety net. Should the Penguins somehow slip through that, they won’t deserve to make the postseason. They will be remembered as failures. They will be remembered for one of the worst collapses in Pittsburgh sports history. They are 3-9-2 in their past 14 games.
Not to put any extra pressure on the boys.
It’s easy to believe they are feeling plenty as it is.
Tonight the Pittsburgh Penguins host the New York Islanders and need two points to assure another post-season appearance.
Puck drops just after 7:00pm and feel free to discuss the game, the upcoming playoffs or anything hockey related.
Here is the scenario for Penguins, Senators and the Bruins.
Pittsburgh plays in Buffalo tomorrow at 7pm.
Ottawa needs a point to guarantee a playoff spot and they play in Philadelphia at 12:30pm tomorrow.
Boston needs help, via the Boston Bruins....
Entering the weekend, the Bruins trail the Ottawa Senators by two points and the Pittsburgh Penguins by one point. Here is what needs to happen for the Bruins to secure a spot in the 2014-15 playoffs: 1. Ottawa loses in regulation and the Bruins win in any fashion; 2. Pittsburgh loses both of their remaining games in regulation and the Bruins win in any fashion; 3. Pittsburgh earns just one point in their final two games and the Bruins win in regulation or overtime.
added 7:30pm, below a screeshot of the goal the Pens thought they scored...
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
There are people who say the Pittsburgh Penguins should blow it up, six years after their Stanley Cup win and nowhere near another trip to the finals.
So would they ever dangle star Evgeni Malkin for trade?
I would. They’re not trading Sidney Crosby, but Malkin would bring back a boatload.
Rick Nash got the Columbus Blue Jackets four pieces and he’s not Malkin, 29 in July, who has won a Hart and two Art Ross trophies over his career.
I’m just spitballing, but what if they shopped him to the Detroit Red Wings, who have scads of good young forwards and defencemen. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, who replaced Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov years back, aren’t getting any younger.
Or maybe Florida and Colorado have some of what Pittsburgh might want.
There is one crazy wild-card in all of this too, of course. Maybe Crosby doesn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel at 28, and he makes it known he wouldn’t be adverse to moving.
continue for many more hockey topics...
from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star,
Lots of teams wobble. Lots of teams shake. The Penguins have been hit by injuries, and that hurts, and they probably make the playoffs because they play the wobbling Islanders and Buffalo to end the season.
But whether they do or not may not be the issue. The Penguins may get into the playoffs, and the Senators could pass the Islanders instead, or the Bruins, or the Red Wings. Pittsburgh, though, is always different, because only Pittsburgh has two generational players on the back half of their primes, and are therefore a ticking clock.
And for the last five years, every season has ended in the same way: Crosby sitting in his locker, drained, suppressing anger as best he can. People who knew Crosby used to say that he knew he could never catch Gretzky when it came to pure production, or even relative production: his best chance at legacy was Stanley Cups.
And that’s hard, because that’s the goal over which Crosby has the least control. He’s been blessed by Evgeni Malkin, but he has also played on teams that were muffled by Jaroslav Halak, and teams that have come apart at the seams once they got punched in the mouth by Philadelphia or Boston, and a team that blew a 3-1 lead to the Rangers last season while Brian Gibbons skated on his wing. A decade in and he has one Cup, all told.
And this season, by Crosby’s standards, he has dropped a little.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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