by Tony on 03/08/14 at 01:00 PM ET
I wonder when the Penguins flew back to the East Coast early this morning after their shootout win in Anaheim they collectively got light bulbs popping up in their heads:
"Damn, the Blackhawks, Sharks and Ducks sure beat us up all game long"
"Damn, the Blackhawks, Sharks and Ducks didn't barely give us any space in their zone"
"Damn, we gave up a lot of shots, while having an embarrassingly low amount of shots on goal"
And then, hopefully:
"Oh yeah, that's how we keep losing in the playoffs!"
Or shall I say, Penguins fans had better hope they realized that.
Let's be clear: This isn't just coming from me. There have been similar sentiments opined from the most of the Penguins beat writers and media over the last couple weeks.
First was the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Dejan Kovacevic:
Seriously, isn't it about time, instead of Pittsburghers making excuses legit or otherwise, instead of debating linemates or strategy, instead of bowing before the opponents' goalie or system, that Crosby and Malkin just rise above it all?
Isn't that what great players do?
Then came WXDX's Mark Madden, with this doozy of a statement:
The Penguins are on their way to being remembered like the Atlanta Braves of the ‘90s. Lots of talent. No guts. Lots of little wins. Not enough big wins. Underachievers. Paper champions. Regular-season warriors.
And finally the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Joe Starkey, after the Penguins failed to land Vancouver's Ryan Kesler:
Honestly, it's not about the star they did not get.
It's about the stars they still have.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Marc-Andre Fleury are the Penguins' highest-paid players (along with injured defenseman Paul Martin). Isn't it about time those guys did something other than fall apart and fail to produce in the biggest games of all?
Pretty striking, if you ask me. No beating around the bush with those statements.
It's plainly obvious even to a schmuck like me what the blueprint has now become to beating the Penguins:
- Play extremely physical, especially on Crosby, Malkin and Neal. And most likely, your team will reap the retaliatory penalties as a result. And by the way, don't worry about your own guys, most of the Pens won't lay a hand on them.
- Pepper Marc-Andre Fleury with shots from every conceivable angle.
- Collapse around your net, let the Penguins play Globetrotter around the perimeter.
Without defensemen Paul Martin and Kris Letang in the lineup, the Pens have given up an unusually alarming number of shots. 40 to Chicago, 47 to San Jose, 31 to Anaheim. They hope to get Martin back before the end of the regular season, but it's not looking like Letang will be back this season.
Offensively, it's becoming frustrating watching
Meadowlark and Curly, I mean, Crosby and Malkin and the rest, pass up shot after shot, game after game. The result? 19 shots against Nashville, 22 against San Jose, 17 against Anaheim.
Some may say, hey that's the Western Conference, much stronger than the East this year. Penguins won't have to worry about them until they make the Cup Finals. Or shall I say, IF they make it that far. But I disagree. What I just described sure reminded me of the series against the Bruins last year.
These playoff hockey reminders will continue this coming week, when the Penguins face back-to-back matchups with both Washington and Philadelphia.
It's the perfect time for the Penguins to start playing playoff hockey. Or else, as Madden said, the Pens' likeness to the Atlanta Braves will get even more similar.
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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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