Monday, April 28, 2008

Game 2: Beating them at their own game

Apologies for no updates this weekend (it was our birthday) but anyways you know the result of Game 2, 2-0 win for the good guys. Some thoughts:

  • A lot has been made, rightfully so, about the Penguins winning such a close, low scoring game. Pittsburgh played pretty well in the defensive zone down the stretch of the regular season, yielding three or more goals only once the the final 13 games. But those following hockey are now starting to see that same effort applied every night in the playoffs and are now becoming impressed.
  • Obviously that all ends with Marc-Andre Fleury, but it begins with the defense. The Penguins were credited with 22 blocked shots (and 13 of 18 skaters blocked at least one, lead by Sergei Gonchar's 5). The team tried to keep the Rangers to outside and worse scoring angles and then clogged the lanes. That's a recipe for success.
  • Jordan Staal scored the game's only goal of consequence and played a pretty complete game; even if he was only 27% in the faceoff circles. Staal's effort with and without the puck was quite solid. Staal is also quite adept and comfortable killing penalties, as he played a forward-high 5:48 shorthanded.
  • The Rangers got a bad break when the referee whistled the puck dead when it was covered (but not completely possessed) by Fleury. But, as the Rangers even admitted after the game, that's just the way it goes sometimes.
  • Marian Hossa's firing gallery continued; 7 shots on goal including a breakaway chance when sprung from a sublime feed by Gonchar. Hossa didn't score, of course, but it wasn't for a lack of effort or chances. Again. Hossa leads the league in playoff shots on goal per game (5.8 a night). Unfortunately though he's 122nd (out of 133 playoff scorers) in shooting percentage.
  • Also, we're not sure what Fleury's thinking giving the biggest asshole in the NHL Sean Avery a cup check as time was expiring. Sure it's got to be refreshing to take a stick and hit such a jerk below the belt, but MAF's in a place with nothing to gain and everything to do by taking such action.
  • Now comes two games at MSG, a venue that hasn't been too kind this season to the Pens. But the team will have to be flying high after their recent performances, so we wouldn't put too much stock in past results with a team motoring full speed ahead right now.

6 down, 10 to go....

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