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No bonus points for dominating play for Penguins

The ice was shifted towards the Penguins’ offensive zone for the vast majority of Thursday night’s Game Four.

A steady and bruising forecheck.  Cycling the puck virtually at will at times.  Beating the Habs to loose pucks.

But unfortunately, this isn’t figure skating for the West German judge to give the Penguins a 9.8.  This is hockey.  More specifically, this is playoff hockey.  For as good as the Pens looked in the Habs’ zone, they’re for whatever reason failing at the most important part, that being of course scoring more goals than their opponent.

And because of that, we’re down to a best of three series, sports fans.

As you can imagine, the blame game is in full gear.  Blaming Crosby and Malkin.  Blaming Fleury.  Blaming Letang and his damn skate.

But hey, let’s give Jaroslav Halak a smidge of credit though.  No, I still don’t think that he’s had to stand on his head like he had to do in upsetting the Capitals, reason being the Penguins are simply not getting as many pucks on net, relatively speaking.  But Halak definitely had a few of those moments last night, including a huge save off a rebound attempt on the power play by Crosby midway through the third period.

But to be completely fair, let’s be honest, Halak is not giving up extremely soft goals such as the one Fleury gave up on the first shot of the game last night. In my view, Fleury’s play is not the primary reason the Penguins are tied in this series, but with the Pens’ even strength offense sputtering (3 goals in 4 games, not counting the Guerin and Dupuis empty netters), you simply cannot give up goals like that and expect to win.  If there’s one thing I’d like to see more of when it comes to Halak, it’s that the Pens need to crash the crease more.  Not to bowl him over, mind you, but get more bodies around him.

Malkin had the golden chance to tie the game on a breakaway with four minutes remaining, but his wrister was flicked away by Halak.  To be fair to Malkin, he got a two-handed whack on the skates from Josh Gorges as he was shooting.  Not complaining, just stating facts. 

You can’t totally fault Malkin, as well as Crosby, for their collective efforts.  It’s kinda silly to say, but they’re dominating in their performance except for putting the puck in the net.  So let’s look at the series in that point of view.  The Penguins are tied in this series despite virtually no offensive input from their two world-class centers.  If the Penguins are to win this series, you’d think that they’re gonna need both of those guys to start getting their names on the scoresheet more often.

Some other notes:

- I’m still haunted by that wide open net that was staring at Letang, but he couldn’t seem to get his stick on the puck to poke it home.
- Fantastic if unspectacular effort by Jordan Staal days after having tendon surgery last night.  It was clear he wasn’t 100% (duh), but under the circumstances, he surely wasn’t a liability.
- 23 blocks for the Habs, compared to 10 for the Pens.

So now the Pens are headed back home to the supposedly friendly confines of the Igloo.  I’ll tell you one thing, that Igloo crowd needs to get off their hands.  The Montreal crowd was clearly a factor last night.  While they were going overboard with their “cheers to get penalty calls”, that crowd was roaring late in the game.  And quite frankly, I haven’t seen that too much from the crowd in the ‘Burgh this playoff season just yet.  That needs to change.

Filed in: , | The Confluence | Permalink
  Tags: montreal+canadiens, nhl-hockey, pittsburgh+penguins


Evilpens's avatar

MAF was the reason they Lost Tony !! He is has ADD or ADHD He can’t keep his head in the Game !! Horrific on the 1st 2 goals & yeah the letang whiff was Terrible too

Posted by Evilpens on 05/07/10 at 11:32 AM ET

Tony's avatar

He was one of the reasons, sure….

But Fleury doesn’t score goals, though….

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 05/07/10 at 11:36 AM ET

Russian Rocket's avatar

I think it would do the Pens a good bit of service to punish the smaller Montreal forwards a bit in the defensive zone.  Cammalleri and Gionta are not going to go away and seem to be Montreal’s only real offensive threats (other than the softies Fleury has let in).  Both players seem to find themselves in open space, with time even far too often. 

Gionta played strong last night, the hit on Orpik (though it was a penalty), going to the net, causing a stir.  The Penguins are going to need to start going to the net more like you stated Tony, not to crash and run Halak, but to disrupt.  Montreal is not going to get upset or flustered chasing the puck around their own end for extended periods… they’re used too it and much like the Devils, they use their system to frustrate the Pens.  Step up the physicality and try and throw them off their game.

Posted by Russian Rocket on 05/07/10 at 11:40 AM ET

Evilpens's avatar

He was one of the reasons, sure….

But Fleury doesn’t score goals, though….

Neither do most of the Pens Wingers, It is Brutally obvious what the Canadiens Game Plan is !! Try to neutralize Sid & Geno & let the other guys beat you

Again paying your 3rd line Center 4 Mill a year is showing up because you Have no competent wingers, Kunitz scores a goal that he whiffs on the shot in the slot & hits his skate

Posted by Evilpens on 05/07/10 at 11:46 AM ET

Tony's avatar

Which is why Fleury wasn’t the main reason they lost….

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 05/07/10 at 11:53 AM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Which is why Fleury wasn’t the main reason they lost….

AHHHH Come on Tony !!! If that goofball doesn’t give up that Horrific goal Early the Pens Go into the 3rd period up 2-0 instead of 2-1 !!& then to make matters twice as Bad he gives up another Horrific goal to tie it up

Joe Starkey & Rob Rossi BLOW MAF about How GOOD he is & the ONE game in the Playoffs he has Played well Starkey writes a column about well well How do you like him now & Rob Rossi writes about how Undervalued Gilles Meloche is by Fans, But Not the Organization, HUH ??? He can’t even teach MAF to stop over committing when the puck is on one side of the Net. & Ty Conklin taught MAF more thsn Meloche ever did about moving/handling the Puck

Posted by Evilpens on 05/07/10 at 12:02 PM ET

Tony's avatar

Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree with his inconsistency, but you can’t dismiss the Penguins’ inability to score unless they’re on the power play…..

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 05/07/10 at 12:07 PM ET


West German judge?  Does this mean only the judges in favor of the Penguins would be the ones giving high marks to the Pens?

Did we already forget that the Caps carried the play for the majority of the series against the Habs and still lost? The Caps excuses were Green, Semin and Boudreau and things were going to be different against an experienced Penguins team. The Penguins made all the adjustments that Caps were supposed to make,  such as play from behind the net and not take long shots that were easily blocked from the point.  Halak was steady, but aside from inflated save totals, I thought rarely had to be spectacular against the Caps as well becasue of the play of his defense.

We also heard Ovechkin didn’t score in the last two games and that was another reason they lost. So yes you can actually fault Malkin and Crosby when they don’t score. Stars get a disproportionate amount of credit for wins as well as losses (see Joe Thorton).  Goaltending was also a Caps issue since Varlamov and Theodore didn’t match up to Halak. Then again if I recall MAF was being heralded as the reason they took game 3.

I’m starting to think that maybe the Habs as a team need to be given little bit more credit for having a solid gameplan and executing it well even if it only works if the other team is willing to carry the offense the entire game.  The risk of trying to be overly physical or chippy is the Habs powerplay which has kept other teams honest. They have a mobile and disciplined defense and a set of skilled forwards that although they are small and are finding the open ice by being there first.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 05/07/10 at 12:10 PM ET


I realize hockey is a team game and you can’t blame 1 person or even 1 play, but seriously, when Geno is making almost 9 million a year and gets a breakaway with 3 minutes left in a 1 goal game, he HAS to score. Thats why he makes 9 million a year.

Posted by Kstewy16 on 05/07/10 at 12:22 PM ET


Posted by Kstewy16 on 05/07/10 at 10:22 AM ET

You know, I would at least take an “effort” from Malkin on a breakaway. He did the exact same thing he always does on breakaways, shoot low blocker, and he never scores. He scores on those chances when he dekes, and a breakaway (especially when he has the seperation he had) is the perfect time to deke the goalie as there’s no time to think about it. Instead, he started gliding, therefore slowing down, and pulling his left leg in closer to his body allowing the defenseman the opportunity to stick him just enough to bother him.

I had no problem with the game besides that breakaway, and Crosby playing at about 85%.

Posted by NathanBC on 05/07/10 at 02:17 PM ET

Tony's avatar

Yeah I’d agree, and it’s surprising, ‘cause Malkin has an outstanding head fake, but rarely uses it….

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 05/07/10 at 02:32 PM ET


As a Caps fan, I did not expect the first round to go the way it did and I have to say the same thing about this second round. The more I see it, the more I feel like I need to give the Habs some credit. It’s not that the Caps and Pens don’t have blame to spread around, but the Canadiens are really making the most of their opportunity.

Posted by false_cause from DC on 05/07/10 at 03:54 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

The Habs have been outplayed at every postion in this series except in goal. What sucks about that is the Caps could have probably said the same thing. downer

Head up and keep moving foward, it’s a best of 3 with 2 at home. mad

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 05/07/10 at 04:52 PM ET

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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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