If we take a look at the first five meetings this season the answer is a resounding NO. An aggregate score of 17-3 tells the story of the total dominance that the Devils have had over the Penguins this season. It would be a big step toward finishing first in the division if the Penguins can solve the Devils this one time on Wednesday. Pending the results of the Devils’ game with Boston tonight, the Penguins lead over the Devils could be anywhere from O to 6 points. It seems kind of strange for the Penguins to be ahead of the Devils in the standings when they have gone O-5 against them this year, but that is the case.
Enough on the background. The question at hand is — Can the Penguins beat the Devils?
The Devils play the Lemaire trap. Yes, it is defensively effective, but oh so bad for the game of hockey. As Reg Dunlap said, it certainly makes for a game hardly worth watching, even for hardcore Penguin fans. The trap’s effectiveness is predicated on slowing the game down, especially through the neutral zone. The Pens must take some risks coming out of their own end so that they can create some speed and odd man breaks. Once they gain control of the New Jersey zone, they have to pressure the Devils’ defense and keep them bottled up. This became known as ‘Bylsma hockey’ late last season. A plan of attack that they have not employed against New Jersey this year. Instead they have laid back and played right into the Devils’ hands. Let speed and skill level determine the outcome of the game, and the Penguins will emerge victorious. There may be some turnovers that afford the Devils some scoring chances. That is why Fleury is there. I would rather see the Penguins trade scoring opportunities with the Devils than lay back and try to play a mistake-free game. Limiting chances is the Devils’ game and not the strategy that will give the Penguins success. Go for broke, push hard all over the ice, and extend the Atlantic Division lead. That’s the view from E11.
Note — Why is Matt Cooke a dirty player while Ovechkin is a ‘reckless’ player? Maybe Cooke should have been suspended, but his hit was not technically illegal. What Ovechkin did was illegal. He is most definitely among the league leaders in cheap shots as proven today by his second suspension of the season.
Note — Along the same vein, what Downey did to Crosby was a deliberate attempt to injure no matter how you slice it. This action should not be overlooked by the league.
Note — Further proof of Steigy’s non-understanding of how to call a hockey game took place at the end of the third period of the Carolina game. With the score tied at 3, he and Errey bantered about something that had absolutely nothing to do with the hockey game for three of the last three and a half minutes of the game. It’s one thing to jabber on during a blowout, but please not in the closing minutes of a tie game.