Some Thoughts About the Pens after Game 1 (And A Story About Nachos) by @MadChad412 - PensInitiative | Pittsburgh Penguins Blog | Rumors | News

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Some Thoughts About the Pens after Game 1 (And A Story About Nachos) by @MadChad412

The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets in game one Wednesday night, by a score of 4-3. The Pens came out flat, but did a good job of being resilient in the face of adversity, which is mostly due to thanks to their leadership, talent, and playoff experience. In the first period, you would have thought that the Blue Jackets were the more experienced team. The Blue Jackets came out, looked better than the Pens, and took a 3-1 lead. The Pens looked flat, especially on defense, having breakdown after breakdown, and couldn't seem to muster any  offense.

The Pens ended up coming together, taking advantage of the man-advantage opportunities, going 2-3 on the power-play. Now with game one under the belt, the Pens can sit back and look at the fact that they didn't play very well for most of game one, and still won the game. If the Pens play how they played in the last 30 minutes of game one, for close to 60 minutes, they can honestly sweep the Blue Jackets.

 So much for the goaltending edge for Columbus. 

Before this series started, the same narratives were recycled day after day. The Pens have the better team, but Columbus has the better goalie. Factor in the fact that Pens' goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has imploded in the playoffs the last four postseasons, failing to post a save percentage above .900% in any of them. All season long, game after game, I heard nothing about Fleury other than "Talk to me when it's the playoffs" and "Yeah but what about the playoffs?." Well, the playoffs are here, and Fleury played very well in game one. He outperformed the opposing goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, who won last year's Vezina trophy.

Bobrovsky is good, but Fleury is the only one of the two that has won a Stanley Cup. Fleury is the only one of the two that has won over a playoff game, and Fleury is the only one of the two that has a career save percentage above .900% in the playoffs. Sure, Fleury plays in front of the better team, but last night Fleury's defense, with the exception of Olli Maatta and Matt Niskanen did him little justice. They left him out to dry on all three goals, and Fleury bailed the team out on numerous occasions, and Fleury answered the bell, stopping 31 of 34 shots on goal.

Bobrosksy let in two questionable goals and is now 0-4 in the playoffs for his career. His save percentage in those games is a measly .855, which is beyond terrible. Remember, one of the reasons the Philadelphia Flyers gave up on Bobrovsky is his performances against the Penguins. Fleury, on the other hand, did a great job of not allowing the fact that he gave up three goals in the first playoff game this season, considering the looming skepticism of how he was going to perform.

Marc-Andre Fleury 

Sergei Bobrovsky 

All Aboard the Brian Gibbons Bandwagon 

I am not afraid to be wrong. When I first saw Brian Gibbons play for the Pens, I never ever thought that I would say that he should be in the lineup every game for the playoffs, let alone  play on the top line with Sidney Crosby. Well we are in the playoffs and I am saying both of those things. Last night, Gibbons started the game on the fourth line, paired with Craig Adams and Joe Vitale, and ended the night playing on the top line with Crosby and Chris Kunitz. As pointed out by head coach Dan Bylsma, and others, Gibbons should stay there for the time being.

"(Crosby's) line generated more zone time, more puck time, with Brian there, and I thought it was good for Beau Bennett as well," Bylsma said after the game.

If nothing else, it seems like the most effective move Bylsma could make.

"I think Gibby uses his speed and gets on the forecheck, and Beau is just patient with the puck," Crosby said. "(He) made some good plays, some good passes and kept it simple." - Quotes courtesy of Sean Gentile from the Sporting News 

Pretty good endorsements for Gibbons, who has both Crosby and Bylsma vouching for him to play on the first line. That means that Beau Bennett, who had a pretty good night himself, will play on the third line with Brandon Sutter and Lee Stempniak. Everyone wins in that situation. Sutter gets a very talented Beau Bennett, who adds more size and skill on his line, and Crosby and Kunitz get the never-stopping Gibbons, who is usually the fastest player on the ice, to do all of the gritty things for them. Gibbons is a puck possessing speed demon, who also happens to be the best player on the team at drawing penalties. I was a skeptic when it came to Gibbons, but now I'm a believer, this is a guy that can make a positive difference every night for this team. If Gibbons learns to put the puck in the net, which a likely will end up doing playing with Crosby, that will just be an added bonus.

Only Joe Vitale had a better night than Gibbons when it came to possessing the puck. 

Other notes: 

Jesse Marshall of Faceoff-Factor, had a good breakdown of the Crosby-Brandon Dubinsky matchup here.

Crosby didn't have any points during five-on-five situations, but he played a spirited game, and had one of the best plays of the night. Crosby,in a diving effort, cleared the puck out of the zone to help ice the game. The best dive of his career in my opinion.

Crosby dives to save the day on Make A Gif

Paul Martin had a huge turnaround. Martin was largely at fault for both of the Blue Jackets' first two goals, and played really uninspired hockey in the first period. However, Martin rebounded in a big way, tallying two assists, and doing a great job possessing the puck and generating offense during the rest of the game. 

All season long, I kept criticizing Rob Scuderi. All season I kept getting replies saying how he was going to help in the playoffs. I also kept hearing that when Kris Letang returned he would be a lot better. Well, it's the playoffs and Letang is back, and Scuderi was still bad last night. He took a terrible penalty which led to a goal against, and was also on the ice for a goal against. Scuderi also had the worst possession numbers on the night out out of all of the Pens' defensmen. Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang were just as bad to be honest. 


Now for the real reason you came here. I attended game one in person, sitting in section 203. Sometime during the second period, all Hell broke loose. I have been to a ton of sporting events in my lifetime, especially in Pittsburgh, but out of every incident that I have personally witnessed, the one I saw Wednesday night takes the cake.

I don't remember what happened during the game that led to this incident, but a man sitting about five seats down from me ended up spazzing out, spilling his nachos and cheese all over the gentleman sitting in front of him.

Here is some pics....

I can't imagine how mad I would have been. During a playoff game, to have nacho cheese spilled on you has to be one of the most asshole things to happen to anyone I have ever seen. The cheese spiller did end up cleaning the poor guy off, wiping him down with paper towels. However, in the most "I don't give a F***" moments I have ever seen, the cheese spiller went back to the concession stands and got a brand new serving of nachos, causing those around him, me included, to be in utter shock. Props to the dude that got the nachos spilled on him for not beating the shit out of that guy.

When asked why he decided to go back for me nachos, the spiller said "Because it's the cup!". Mic drop 

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