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Penguins would be wise to heed Herb Brooks

Not very much on the line Wednesday night, eh boys?

Forget about everything that’s happened leading up to tomorrow night’s Game Seven between the Canadiens and Penguins.  Forget that the Pens have blown leads in all three of their losses.  Forget that Jaro Halak has continued his magical roll for a second straight playoff series, even though the Penguins have dominated play for the majority of the series.

All that is irrelevant now, it all boils down to one game.  One game which if the Penguins lose on their home ice at stately Civic/Mellon Arena will close it forever in stunning fashion.

So this morning, the spirit of Herb Brooks paid me a visit and reminded me of the speech he gave his USA team in the 2nd intermission of the 1980 Gold Medal game vs. Finland, which they were losing 2-1:

“If you lose this game you will take it with you to your f#$king graves.”
As he started to leave the locker room, he stopped, turned around and added, “Your f#$king graves.”

Maybe that’s a tad bit over-dramatic, sounded good at the time.  But when you think about it, it’s pretty much a damn accurate statement, is it not?

Can you imagine how sick to the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins’ collective stomachs they will feel all summer long if they don’t win this game?  Even if they win, there’s no guarantee that they’ll advance past the Eastern Conference Finals or win the Stanley Cup.  But if they lose, especially after being up 3-2 against a team with a multitude of injuries to their defensive corps, they’ll never forget it.

Usually, when it comes to Penguins’ losses at home, it’s due to the team coming out flat, lackadaisical, uninspired, etc.  Thankfully, that shouldn’t be an issue on Wednesday night.  Put it this way, I would be absolutely shocked/stunned/flabbergasted if they did.

I don’t think HCDB will make many changes at all.  I believe the Ukrainian connection of Fedotenko and Ponikarovsky will remain in the press box.  The big clamor coming from the fans after last night’s loss was the wish to get Alex Goligoski out of the lineup to be replaced by Jay McKee.  Although I agree that Goligoski made Max Lapierre look like, well, Mike Cammalleri, I would be surprised if HCDB actually makes the move to sit GoGo.

But what I fully expect is the Penguins to come out and play the body on the Canadiens, big time.  The Penguins’ forecheck, for whatever reason, was not there as much in Game Six.  It needs to be like it was in Game Five.  I also don’t want to see the Penguins’ defense backing up and allowing the Habs free entry into the Pens’ zone time after time.

Game Sevens are what’s great about hockey, as nerve-racking as they are.  Perhaps the Penguins should remember their old coach Herb for some inspiration.

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


Russian Rocket's avatar

I also don’t want to see the Penguins’ defense backing up and allowing the Habs free entry into the Pens’ zone time after time.

This has become a sickening trend to watch.  Montreal creates most of their offense off of the rush, sometimes there is no way to neutralize that, but all too often their forwards have a significant amount of time and space as Penguin defenders just back-peddle further in. 

Offensively, If they want to impose their will, play their game, and win they must get the puck deep and work it down low, no turn overs in the neutral zone, no offensive zone penalties, traffic in front of Halak, and capitalize on chances.  Not to mention it will decrease the pressure on the Pen’s defenders.

Posted by Russian Rocket on 05/11/10 at 11:56 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

These are the games that temper teams and make them “experienced.” Win or lose, it will help this team in coming years. In a sense, it is a win/win for Pittsburgh to be in this position, although they should have never let it come to this. Halak is a great goaltender at times, and just really good other times. Montreal has a lot more skill than their standings show, but they’re a pretty beaten up team. I don’t know if the Habs can beat the Penguins, but the Penguins can certainly beat themselves. If Crosby plays a level-headed game, they stand more chance to win. If he’s mentally elsewhere (as he can sometimes be), I don’t think the rest of the team will be able to pick up the slack.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 05/11/10 at 12:00 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Their weaknesses that have been there all season are killing them, Mediocre at Best Wingers, Soft Gutless Defensemen, Erratic Goaltending, Malkin MIA, Bad Lifeless Coaching

Posted by Evilpens on 05/11/10 at 12:24 PM ET

Greg's avatar

The past few seasons have seen series like this one.  Look at what the Wings and Pens have had to go through to get to the finals twice in a row.  Last year it was the Caps, the year before that was a tough one in Philly, while Detroit was almost beaten (literally and figuratively) by the Ducks on their way to the finals again.

So, saying that, i hope next week I’m looking back at this game 7 as another instance where the team had to overcome a little more than usual and were successful.

Posted by Greg on 05/11/10 at 12:33 PM ET

Moq's avatar

Maybe that’s a tad bit over-dramatic, sounded good at the time.  But when you think about it, it’s pretty much a damn accurate statement, is it not?

A bit to hyperbolic for my liking. A loss will certainly hurt and foster regrets, but our window isn’t closing. That being said, I’d rather see them advance than getting an extra month of rest before next season.

The Penguins have themselves to blame for making this a seven game series. Both in terms of failing to make adjustments to the gameplan and less than uniform performances across the roster from game to game. Far too many players haven’t reached their expected level of play, whether it’s goaltending, defence, or offence. That makes it’s difficult to impose our will on the opponent. Considering that we’ve that many games against Montreal this season, I don’t see a lot of alternative ideas. More of the same seems like the agenda.

But what I fully expect is the Penguins to come out and play the body on the Canadiens, big time.

Probably, I’m less certain it’s a good idea. Given how we (don’t) play as a unit, it will result in more “of the rush” chances for Montreal. Fleury saved most of them in game 5, but it seems uncomfortable for a game 7. I prefer a more cerebral puck-possession KISS game over frantic full-ice pressure in this one.

Posted by Moq from Denmark on 05/11/10 at 12:39 PM ET


I have been a big MAF critic this season, but last nights loss was not his fault. 

Goal #1, the pass to cam. was so fast and his release was so quick, i don’t think even Hasek could have ever stopped that shot.

Goal #2, I blame this goal on Talbot.  The pass to cam was so obvious, i can not believe that he was not able to break that up.  Also, to let someone cut into the middle of the ice like that and not destroy him is unbelievable.

Goal #3, LETANG.  Seriously, this guy needs to learn to either go down and block the shot or get the hell out of the way.

Goal #4, Goligoski.  Enough said.  The guy has been complete crap defensively.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 05/11/10 at 12:47 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

If they play an aggressive, chippy game where they’re taking cheap shots, they’ll lose.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 05/11/10 at 12:49 PM ET

Moq's avatar

If they play an aggressive, chippy game where they’re taking cheap shots, they’ll lose.

Quite. We tend to overpursue, forecheck disjointedly, and play chippy on home ice at times this season, which may explain why we’ve done well on the road. That we’ve managed to scrape home two wins in Mellon Arena isn’t just down to skill - mildly put.

Posted by Moq from Denmark on 05/11/10 at 01:54 PM ET

Link_Gaetz's avatar

The Penguins need to play how Dan Bylsma coaches - with reserved intensity (if that makes any sense).

You can tell that Bylsma is fired up and wants to win, but he is always calm, and never argues with the refs.

The Pens need to go out, be as intense as possible, but play sound positional hockey and stay away from the other crap (bitching to the refs, retaliating, etc).

This game is the Penguins game to lose.

Posted by Link_Gaetz on 05/11/10 at 02:47 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Is any Pens Fan as DISGUSTED as I am with Gonchar’s “DEFENSIVE ZONE PLAY” ??

I think he is as SOFT AS **** & avoids getting hit & getting to the Puck 2nd with great dexterity

Posted by Evilpens on 05/11/10 at 05:57 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

The second Habs goal was due to Orpik doing EXACTLY what I thought the Pens might. Off to get some deserved rest and watch the rest of the season from the couch.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 05/13/10 at 11:39 AM 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.

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