by Tony on 05/07/10 at 11:13 AM ET
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.
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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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