by Tony on 06/01/09 at 04:34 PM ET
Not that it means a damn thing today, but the Penguins did a lot of things well in the first two games.
If anyone is claiming that the Wings are dominating the Penguins after two games, they either didn’t actually watch the games, or they don’t know what the hell they’re looking at.
Even those Wings fans, when they’re not boasting to anyone that will dare read their posts, are knowledgable enough that they should agree with that sentiment. Then again, who knows. But give the Wings credit, good teams find ways to win. The Pens have been in that same boat many times this season. You work hard, you get the bounces. You work hard, you get the breaks.
So, can the Pens still pull this series out ?? I truly believe so. Will they ?? Naturally, at this point, that’s very questionable. But if they’re gonna do it, some things will have to fall into place, and soon.
1. Marc Andre Fleury has been, putting it nicely, inconsistent. There have been many other opinions of his performance throughout the Pens’ blogosphere that have ranged from unlucky to horrible. Unlucky was a common theme to his Game One performance, but at the same time, especially on the first two goals, if he were to be better positioned in goal, both shots that resulted in goals probably wouldn’t have been an issue. On Stuart’s goal, Fleury’s right leg was too far outside the crease, resulting in the puck to pinball off his back leg and into the net. In addition, on Franzen’s goal to make it 2-1, that goal went in the net as a result of Fleury flopping around like a fish out of water. In Game Two, Fleury was screened on Ericsson’s goal by that hulking Darren Helm in front of him. And Abdelkader’s goal was simply a back-breaker. A two-goal third period lead is a helluva lot worse, to the Pens naturally, than a one-goal lead. The most frustrating part of Fleury’s performance is that the Wings have beaten him six times, and the Wings haven’t even tested him yet
. Compare the quality of shots on Fleury to those on Osgood, it’s not even close.
2. Wingers must finish. Henrik Zetterberg, as was expected, is doing another fabulous defensive job on Sidney Crosby. However, give Crosby his due, he has still found both Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin for several juicy one-timers right in front of Chris Osgood, but to no avail. On the second line, Ruslan Fedotenko, though he’s having a good playoff run, has had some outstanding passes handed to him by Evgeni Malkin. Credit some of these failures to score to Osgood’s steady play, some to simply firing the puck into Osgood’s gut, and some of it to clanging the puck off the posts. Maybe the change in scenery will result in some of those post shots deflecting in the net rather than out of it. Posts or not, those wingers have to start capitalizing on their chances.
3. While were on the subject of Crosby and Malkin, the switch to the Igloo at least gives Coach Bylsma the advantage of the last change. That isn’t a given, of course, I’m sure you’ll see Coach Babcock do his best to get Zetterberg back out there on Crosby. Let’s also not forget about Pavel Datsyuk, who could be close to returning. But getting that last change gives Crosby and Malkin more room to operate, such as the short timeframe last night where Crosby split the “D” and nearly scored on Osgood.
4. It sounds whiny, but the law of average dictates that the Penguins are going to start getting some breaks. Notice that I didn’t say penalties, although that wouldn’t hurt either. Shots off the posts, bounces going against them, things couldn’t have gone much worse.
5. The Penguins’ defensive corps has not played well, to put it lightly. As I mentioned in last night’s recap, Kris Letang has looked very shaky. Rob Scuderi, who was phenomenal matched up against Richard, Ovechkin and Staal, has had some lapses against the Wings, particularly during Abdelkader’s knuckleball goal in the third period last night. Hal Gill continues to scare the hell out of me when he tries to skate. With the referees putting the whistles away, Sergei Gonchar has been incognito. So while overall the Pens’ defense has really only given up a couple of un-deflection goals, the ones they have given up have hurt just the same.
6. Must hold serve on home ice. The Igloo will be rocking, there’s no doubt about that. However, the Penguins cannot afford to relax at all simply becuase they’re playing at home. What that means is that they can’t start making the hotdogging moves that come often times when they play at home. They can’t force the extra pass. They have to continue to get quality shots on net, and hope that some of them start making their way to the net.
Looking forward to Game Three Tuesday night. The series isn’t over by far, but some things need to change.
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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