Sunday, May 25, 2008

S-L-O-P-P-Y Pens Lose Game 1

The Penguins played like a team that just had a six day layoff, sloppy effort. Unfortunately for them, the Red Wings did not look like a team that had a comparable five day layoff. Detroit out-work, out-controlled, was more physical and deserved to win that game. Detroit gave a free lesson in efficiency, effort and precision. Their hard workers worked, their skill players showed skill. They scored their second goal early in the third period and then battened down the hatches on a defensive effort.

In a tough series like this, the realistic goal when starting on the road is to take one of the first two road games. This negates the original home-ice advantage and helps throw momentum to the lower ranked team. The Pens still have a shot at this. All is not lost, just game one. And one game doesn't make a series. Though, if the Penguins didn't learn the lesson that Detroit taught them, it's not going to be pretty.

Some other thoughts bouncing around our head:

  • The Pens went 0- for 5 on the powerplay and allowed 36 shots against them. If you told us this information before the game, we could have enjoyed a Saturday evening.
  • Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi were on the ice for both of the first two goals (both scored by Mikael Samuelsson). Whether they deserve fault for either is irrelevant; the point is the same one we made last week: we don't like the slow and defensive combination of Gill and Scuds and then an over the top puck moving (but not very defensive) duo of Ryan Whitney and rookie Kris Letang. Break them up to even it out, we're beggin'!
  • Probably no team takes more flack for diving then the Penguins (rightly or wrongly is another issue). But those Red Wings sure went down pretty easy a couple times there, didn't they?
  • A lot will probably be made of Marc-Andre Fleury, but we didn't think (aside from the Dan Cleary goal) that he played poorly. He faced 36 shots and was pretty solid for the most part. Having a team to help you out is the key. If the NHL made Fleury and Chris Osgood trade teams before the game, the scored would have still ended up about 4-0 Detroit.
  • We're not really of the opinion that Evgeni Malkin is dogging it. We do believe the Pens need a little more out of him, but no one can be expected to score every single game or take over every game, every night on every shift.

The Pens have shuffled forward lines a little today at practice:

--At first glance, we like it. Can't lose 4-0 in what the coach calls the worst showing in the playoffs and not make changes. Like we thought, Gary Roberts should have been in the lineup the whole time (if truly 100%). Therrien's loyalty to a guy like Georges Laraque may not have cost the Pens a game, but it didn't put them in the best position to win, which is the coach's job.

--Pascal Dupuis couldn't convert a breakaway that Sidney Crosby created for him and only has two goals in the playoffs (and one of them was banked in off his leg by Marian Hossa). Can't stay on the top line if you're not producing a little more than that. Malone has experience playing with Crosby and is good in front of the net and should create a little more space in the zone for Cros and Hoss to setup.

--Max Talbot drawing top six minutes is ok by us. He's a worker, won't slack in the defensive zone and is willing to throw some hits to dig out pucks. A line of Malkin/Petr Sykora needs that kind of precense so it'll be interesting if Talbot can make the most of their opportunity.

--We are surprised that Therrien benched Laraque and not Jarkko Ruutu. Ruutu made the piss-poor clearing attempt after a long shift that directly lead to the first goal about halfway through the second period. Therrien gave Ruutu just four more shifts for the rest of the game.

No comments: