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Penguins Update: No Joy in Mudville – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Update: No Joy in Mudville

It’s been several days since Boston swept our beloved Penguins from Stanley Cup competition. In my mind, here are seven factors that led to the defeat:

1. Sid’s Jaw—The fractured jaw Sidney Crosby sustained with a month to go in the regular season may have contributed more than any other factor to the Penguins’ undoing. The combination of the grueling playoff grind and a liquid diet—not to mention the Bruins’ rugged checking—left him looking gaunt and exhausted in the Conference Finals.

2. Easy Does It—Although the Islanders gave the Penguins some difficulty in the opening round, the black and gold had too easy a time with Ottawa. In particular, the goal-fests in Games 4 and 5 of the Conference Semifinals may have filled the Pens with a false sense of security and left them vulnerable to a tough team like Boston.

In stark contrast, the Bruins rallied from the brink of elimination in their first-round matchup with Toronto. Having stared adversity squarely in the eye and conquered it, they were the more confident, assured team.

3. The Trades—When GM Ray Shero acquired Jarome Iginla, Jussi Jokinen, Brenden Morrow, and Douglas Murray prior to the trade deadline, I was ecstatic. While it’s true the newcomers added a huge helping of skill, grit, and veteran leadership, the team lost a step (or two) in the process. Indeed, a lack of foot speed is part of the reason the Pens struggled to mount a sustained attack.

The trades may also have provided coach Dan Bylsma and his staff with too many options. Bylsma seemed especially at a loss on how to use Iginla, who saw precious little ice time beside Crosby.

4. Coaching—On a whole, I thought Bylsma did a better job of adjusting than at any time since his arrival in ‘09. His decision to start veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun in Game 5 of the Islanders series literally saved the Pens from another humiliating opening-round loss.

On the down side, the defensive adjustments he made in Games 3 and 4 of the Conference Finals to hold the Bruins in check served to dull the Penguins’ attack. Bylsma also failed to come up with any tactical solutions for Boston’s 1-2-2. With the lone exception of Evgeni Malkin—who frequently employed the center drive—the Bruins denied the Penguins access to the prime scoring areas and forced them to play a perimeter game.

5. Bad Karma—I was thrilled when Shero pirated Iginla away from Boston in March. But in hindsight, perhaps it wasn’t such a good move. Had Boston gotten “Iggy,” rumor had it they planned to trade power forward Milan Lucic for defensive help.

Instead, the Bruins kept their core intact, acquired Jaromir Jagr, and swept the Pens in four straight games.

6. The Jagr Factor—When I learned Boston had acquired Jagr at the trade deadline, I thought “uh oh.” In my worst nightmares I envisioned the ex-Pens great scoring the series-winning goal against us in Game 7.

To my great relief, my foreboding didn’t come true. Instead, all No. 68 did was force the turnover that led to the Bruins’ backbreaking overtime winner in Game 3.

7. Providence—A friend suggested that in the wake of the tragic Boston Marathon bombings, the “Hub City” surely could use a lift. It may appear far-fetched that the Almighty would care about who wins the Stanley Cup. But it sure seemed as if the Bruins enjoyed some divine intervention—especially when the Pens hammered all those shots off the pipes.

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8 Comments

  1. Kencho's Gravatar Kencho
    June 29, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    If Lentag is smart enough to take the current offer, where does tha leave Duper, Iginla and Cokie?

  2. Yinz?'s Gravatar Yinz?
    June 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    What about …

    8. Bruins are better.

  3. June 11, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Rick,

    While I agree with many of your points in the article, I have to disagree on a couple of things. 1. Sid’s Jaw: From what I understand, at no time was Sid’s mouth wired shut, and he was only on a liquid diet for the first week. I honestly don’t believe this had anything to do with the change in his output from Game 5 of the Ottawa series to Game 1 of the Boston series.

    2. You say the Penguins had too easy of a time with the Sens in Round 2 knocking them out in 5 games. Well, that’s exactly what Boston did to New York in their second round series. Boston didn’t seem too affected by their “easy time” with the Rangers

    I whole heartedly agree with your points on coaching. I don’t necessarily think that Boston denied us the prime scoring areas as the star laden Penguins’ desire to always score “pretty” goals instead of sending three guys crashing the crease and pickle stabbing in the hopes that a puck would trickle under Rask as has happened to us so many times. I totally lay that blame at the feet of the coaching staff.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      June 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Hey Disco Stu,

      Great comments, as always. I wasn’t sure how long Sid was on a liquid diet, but I stand by my observation that he appeared to be absolutely spent against the Bruins. We’ll probably never know for sure, but he looked like he couldn’t have weighed more than 165 pounds by the end of the series.

      Regarding point two … even though the Pens and Bruins both went five games in the second round, I can’t help but think that Ottawa was a softer opponent (no Henrik Lundqvist, etc.) The only time we trailed in the entire series was during portions of the first period of Game 4, right? Plus, scoring all those goals in Games 4 and 5—I just think it put us into the (mid-March) mindset that we could score at will against anybody.

      Whatever the reasons for our offense drying up, it sure was hard to watch, wasn’t it? It appeared the Pens were consciously keeping a forward high in the offensive zone in Games 3 and 4 to prevent any Boston breakouts. As you pointed out, they got no pressure, no cycle, no rebounds, and no ugly goals. Not exactly a recipe for success in the playoffs.

      As an aside, this is the third time in four years we’ve been ousted by a team (Montreal and Tampa Bay being the others) that employed a 1-2-2 or some variation of a trap. The Pens have a ton of trouble penetrating that defensive scheme.

      You touched on coaching. Man, has that become a hot-button topic. On one hand, I feel bad for Bylsma. He’s had so much regular-season success. The players spoke highly of him (and the rest of the staff) in the P-G the other day. Plus, he seems like such a good guy. But if you judge him by the postseason—he’s just not getting the job done.

      This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the coaching issue. I wonder if playing Bylsma’s attacking style all season long leaves the team worn out come playoff time. I was watching some of our guys in Game 4—James Neal in particular—and he just looked exhausted. It seems like we lose our legs just when everybody else is finding theirs …

      Anyway, I don’t envy Ray Shero. He’s got a lot of tough decisions to make…

      • June 11, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Hey Rick, just to pick on a point I will be writing about here in the near future, In particular, after Shero’s presser at 11 am tomorrow morning:

        Bylsma’s style is like you said the “Attacking Style”. Basically fast guys pressing the other teams defense. All the sudden Shero bring in 4 slow old guys. That’s 1/5 of the team.

        I was all psyched when we got the 4 of them. Funny thing, after watching them all, Morrow is the only one I would keep.

        • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
          June 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

          I was (very) excited when we got them, too. But they sure did slow us down.

          You brought up a good point about the new guys representing 1/5 of our team. Not that it would’ve been easy, but I don’t think Bylsma ever figured out how to effectively integrate them into the lineup.

          He seemed especially clueless with Iginla … trying him on left wing, not playing him with Sid … or giving him enough time on the power play. A buddy of mine said it was almost as if Bylsma didn’t want “Iggy” on the team …

  4. Melanie's Gravatar Melanie
    June 11, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    A lot of great points to ponder.

  5. Melanie's Gravatar Melanie
    June 11, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    A lot of great points to ponder.


            

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