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Monday, May 20, 2013

Pens Lose 2-1; Monday Morning Recap

 Our site doesn't usually do recaps but after a double overtime loss, but in this case we'll make an exception. Losing in the playoffs sucks, especially in the social media days because of the extreme overreaction. Then you take in account that a heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins team loses in a double overtime game. All Hell breaks loose. The loss isn't the end of the world, even though it probably feels like it right now. Most people picked the Pens to win this series in five or six games, so logically that means they would have to lose a game.

The loss is annoying though, considering the Pens had a 1-0 hard-earned victory all but wrapped up with less than a minute to go. Add the fact that they were on the powerplay, then it becomes just aggravating beyond belief.

 What I'm liking right now:

 1. Tomas Vokoun: Twerking for Tomas has become my favorite thing ever. If you don't know what that is yet, go to Mikey and Big Bob's kiss fm "Freakshow" page. Vokoun was excellent once again, despite the Pens' 2-1 double-OT loss to the Senators. Vokoun made 46 saves on 48 shots on goal. He made a ton of big saves and almost all of the easy ones. When the puck goes in the net the goalie still deserves some blame and the game-winning goal scored by Colin Greening wasn't a great goal to be allowed, but Vokoun isn't even on the radar as far as the "Blame game" goes.

 Vokoun still has the best save percentage and second bestgoals-against average in the playoffs, with a 4-1 record. This is now his job to lose, and unless he gives up 4-5 goals in a loss, or (knock on wood) gets injured, I highly doubt you see Marc-Andre Fleury again in this postseason.

 2. Matt Cooke and Craig Adams. These guys continue to hit everything that moves, draw penalties, and combined they have only been on the ice for ONE  even-strength goal-against.

3. Two-headed monster is still the best duo in the league: Despite a off game for Sidney Crosby in last night's loss and Evgeni Malkin blowing a defensive assignment on the game-winning goal, these guys are still the best combo in the NHL.

Malkin was a man-possessed in overtime, and it just so happened that Craig Anderson had one of those nights that every goalie dreams about. Game one Malkin was a superstar and led his team to a win. Game two Crosby followed suit and almost single-handily won the game. Anderson won't hold these guys off the score sheet forever.

4. Paul Martin is just really good right now. No further analysis needed. He's doing everything right.

5. Tyler Kennedy needs more playing time. I never thought I would right that. Kennedy continues to score big goals in the playoffs, and should have definitely been on the ice for more than 11 minutes in a double overtime game.

6. For the 2nd game in a row the Penguins absolutely shut down the Senators in the 3rd period with a 1 goal lead, something that had been noticeably missing from the last 2 series. While they didn't get the win, the Penguins ability as a team to control play in a tight game is just the thing they need to continue doing to win the Cup.

Now the bad:

1. The tying goal in regulation. Yikes is the word that comes to mind.

Here's a screen capture right before the goal was scored:

Bylsma made the mistake of treating the end of regulation power play as a power play instead of 5 on 5 hockey, which it would inevitably be when the Senators pulled Anderson. Letang and Martin were the wrong choices on defense for several reasons. Not only are neither the stay at home defensive type all but required in that situation, those two very rarely, if ever, see the ice together in 5 on 5 situations.

This invites miscommunication in the defensive zone on essentially a 5 on 5 situation, and exactly that helped contribute to Ottawa's goal. Crosby absolutely needed to be out there as he drives possession, but I would have sent out Dupuis (fast, defensively sound) and maybe a guy like Craig Adams on his wing. Had the Pens treated the power play as the virtual 5 on 5 situation it was, we most likely would be talking about a 1-0 shutout as we would be highly unlikely to see the lack of cohesion and defensive responsibility we saw there.

For whatever reason, the Pens had a very odd/unique combination of players on the ice for the game-tying goal. The Pens were on the powerplay, but they were also protecting a one-goal lead with less than a minute left. My thoughts are, if you're going to play a prevent style of play like that, have the proper players on the ice.

Usually in these situations the Pens would put out a combo of defensive minded players like "Sutter, Cooke, and Adams at forward. Then maybe Brooks Orpik and Mark Eaton on defense. Instead, the Pens had Malkin and Kris Letang out there. Letang and Malkin are taking most of the blame for this goal. It's a team game so they should both take blame, most people going with the thesis that Daniel Alfredson was Malkin's man to watch.

Giving up a short-handed goal with the other team pulling their goalie with under a minute left is a travesty. Wrong personal, no sense of defensive awareness, reminds us of some moments in round one against the New York Islanders.
This goal never should have happened. The team let their goalie down.

2. Powerplay:

The powerplay went a stunning 0-6 in game three. That just isn't going to cut it. They even had a powerplay in overtime, and of course had a powerplay with under a minute left in the third period, only to allow the tying goal.

The powerplay was amazing in round one against the Islanders, operating above 40% at times. Some were even arguing that this was the best powerplay in Pittsburgh Penguins' history. The last two games, the Pens are 1-12 on the powerplay. That's unacceptable. Props to Anderson for playing really well in net, but when you have Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Martin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, and Jarome Iginla, you shouldn't be 1-12 on the powerplay.

3. James Neal:
Has anyone seen James Neal? Five shots on goal is very promising but Neal has been mediocre this postseason so far. Just one goal and three points in seven games. He's taken bad penalties, been mediocre without the puck, and can't seem to find that glorious scoring touch. Everyone does and should expect more of Neal.
Think about this, Tyler Kennedy has more goals with less chances, ice-time, and shots taken than Neal.

4. Tanner Glass: Hopefully he doesn't have to play again. The End.

IN THE END the Pens will win this series. Craig Anderson posted an absolutely absurd 0.980 save percentage over 50 shots faced, and the Senators needed a goal with less than 30 seconds left to force OT, and then a 2nd OT to win the game. Think about that. Craig Anderson saved 98% of the shots he faced and Ottawa still should feel very fortunate to get the win.

 Like always losing game three in this fashion just makes this series tougher than what already was. Once again the Pens have to overcome some adversity against a team that they are clearly better than.

I have serious doubts that the powerplay will continue to falter and that Anderson will be able to keep Malkin and Crosby off the scoresheet.

Chris Neil still sucks.

Pens in five.

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