by Tony on 01/24/13 at 09:56 AM ET
As I mentioned when we got the blog back up and running, I'm not going to do the game preview/recap thing anymore.
There will be exceptions, and after the embarrassing display the Penguins (and the soldout crowd) put on last night in their 5-2 loss to Toronto, this is one of them.
As we've seen throughout the first week of this abbreviated NHL regular season, it was a familiar result for the team in its home opener.
And frankly, it was a familiar scenario when the Penguins have lost games in recent years, but especially at home. Too damn cute. Blind passes. Extra passes. The vast majority of which resulted in turnovers, of course.
But the overwhelming thing that I took away from this game, the home opener, was the absolutely dead atmosphere, on and off the ice, at the Consol "Energy" Center. Well, at least for last night, it was more like the Consol Mausoleum.
Amazingly, a record crowd of 18,641 sounded like it was half that much. The pregame introductions of the team was met by lukewarm applause, and it continued throughout the game with the fans basically sitting on their hands. Perhaps it was because they were in the huge lines for the 50% discounts at the PensGear stores, or for the free food vouchers. Personally, I'll attribute some of it to those reasons, but it's frankly more of the same from the crowds at CEC. Night and day compared to the Igloo.
And the Penguins' were no more lively than the fans, that's for sure.
The Pens were completely lethargic the entire game. Even when they scored their two goals, there was zero emotion from the players. You could see it within the first five minutes of the game or so. The Leafs were out-hustling, out-working and beating the Penguins for nearly every puck. And most importantly, the Leafs simply threw the puck at the damn net, and that resulted in at least two goals.
No Penguins should be exempt from criticism, and that includes the heavyweights. Both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin committed bad turnovers, with Malkin's directly resulting in a goal.
And lastly, the Penguins must quickly figure out what they're going to do with Eric Tangradi. Maybe last night will turn up to be the exception rather than the rule. But when your 2nd line winger doesn't even get 5 minutes of ice time, that's a problem, my friends. But that's a separate article in itself.
But there is a bright side. Frankly, the worst thing that could happen to this Penguins team right now is to have a bunch of games at home with their subdued crowd. They need to get back on the road to a hostile atmosphere, like where they were over this past weekend in Philly and NYC. Well, that's exactly what the schedule has for the Pens, as they head to Winnipeg on Friday night, followed by another road game in Ottawa on Sunday.
I wouldn't be shocked at all to see a much more focused, determined Penguins team that leaves Winnipeg with a big win.
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Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.
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.
I am blogger- credentialed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. My posts are regularly linked by hockey websites such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Yahoo!‘s Puck Daddy, and I’ve done numerous guest blogger spots on such websites asthe New YorkTimes. I am a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer.
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