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Penguins Update: The Boston Massacre – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Update: The Boston Massacre

More than any Penguins’ defeat in recent memory, last night’s gut-wrenching 3-2 loss at the hands of the Big, Bad Bruins at TD Garden left a bad taste in my mouth and set off a tidal wave of emotions.

pp0410It wasn’t so much that the Penguins lost as how they lost. After giving a valiant effort for 58 emotionally charged minutes, they leaked for two inglorious goals during the final 1:22 to come up empty. That, combined with Shawn Thornton’s vicious (but not totally unprovoked) attack on Brooks Orpik, made me feel like putting my foot through my flat screen TV.

In a nutshell, the larger, tougher Bruins beat the Penguins up and wore them down. That’s because GM Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma have constructed a team that’s more suited for a speed-skating event than the rigors of NHL hockey. How else do you explain the enduring presence of munchkins like Brian Gibbons, Andrew Ebbett, and Chris Conner on the woefully undersized third line?

The only way the Pens can effectively compete against clubs like Boston is to get bigger, stronger and a little meaner. I know it seems like I’m picking on the guy, but they don’t need a mighty mite like Conner playing a prominent role, no matter how fast he skates or how hard he tries. The Penguins must get closer to the mix of players they had a few seasons ago, when they could counter a Thornton with a Mike Rupp.

If Shero can’t identify a player or two who combine size and toughness with a modicum of ability (a rare commodity in the organization), then he needs to call up heavyweight Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and dress “P-L3” against physical teams like Boston and Toronto—at least until Tanner Glass returns.

The Pens already have an enforcer in Deryk Engelland, you say? While I greatly admire Deryk’s toughness, courage, and team-first attitude, his presence wasn’t nearly enough to prevent the Bruins from chopping a physically overmatched Penguins team down to size over the course of 60 minutes.

Think all this is going to change come playoff time and the Pens are going to just glide past Boston? Think again. The Bruins are bigger, tougher, more aggressive, and damn near as skilled. They have our number and they know it.

This ain’t the Ice Follies. Shero needs to stop gulping Bylsma’s “speed first and everything else be damned” Kool-Aid and work to fill in the missing pieces.

*Be sure to check out Rick Buker’s books,
 
available at TriumphBooks.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com

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18 Comments

  1. 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
    December 9, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    I agree we could use a few horses, especially on the wings. That being said I haven’t been completely disappointed by the play of Conner, Ebbett, Sill, or the other plug ins for that matter but over the long haul they aren’t going to take this team where it needs to go. The road to the cup will more than likely go through Boston again this season. Those nasty Bruins are a thorn in our side and a thorn that will have to be dealt with before this season winds to a close. I guess we have the trade deadline to look forward to. Maybe Shero will pull a 6 ft. rabbit or two out of his hat.

    And, a little off topic, is anyone else wondering, as I am, where Dupuis has gone? Hindsight, as we we’ll know, is always 20/20, so my rear view mirror has me opining perhaps that money would have been better spent on Cooke. If I’m missing something vis-a-vis Pascal, please fill me in.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      December 10, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Hey 55 on Point. Always good to hear from you.

      I don’t mean to sound so completely down on guys like Conner and Ebbett. I actually thought Ebbett did a nice job before he went down with the broken ankle. It’s just that you can’t have too many of those guys—at least not without a couple of bigger guys to balance things out.

      Did you watch Conner against the Bruins? He spent half the game on his back. It’s not his fault—he hustles and works as hard as anyone—but 5’8” 180 won’t cut it against a foe like Boston. I would’ve much rather seen PL-3 or even Harry Zolnierczyk, who’s got some sandpaper in his game, in the lineup.

      Regarding Dupuis, I don’t know what’s going on with him. He played so well the last couple of seasons and, remarkably I thought, seemed to dramatically improve his playmaking and puckhandling skills at a relatively advanced age.

      In hindsight, I guess we need to realize these were peak seasons and he wasn’t likely to duplicate them, although honestly I didn’t see a drop-off of this magnitude coming. I mean, he’s not even getting into position to unleash his wicked slap shot, which is usually good for about a dozen goals on its own.

      It’s too bad, because he works so hard and seems like such a good guy. We just have to hope he snaps out of it.

      • 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
        December 10, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        I hope he does, too. The team will certainly need him to display those skills down the stretch.

  2. Jani's Gravatar Jani
    December 9, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Pens need Mike Rupp back!

  3. December 9, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Pens need Mike Rupp back!

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      December 10, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      I really liked Rupp, too. He provided protection, and did some scoring (22 goals over two seasons). From what I heard, he was very popular with his Penguins teammates as well.

  4. December 9, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    As a team we can do only so much. The NHL determined how the refs call the game in what penalties they call and what they over look based on where and who is playing. Going into boston they let things go because that is how their team is built. We get more power plays because that’s how we are built. When the refs call a penalty in the first but not the third the game can get out of hand. You can’t just get a bigger stick or it goes back to the “garage league” Mario played in. Only when the NHL decides to fix this will it stop. And that’s all I have to say about that.

  5. December 9, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    As a team we can do only so much. The NHL determined how the refs call the game in what penalties they call and what they over look based on where and who is playing. Going into boston they let things go because that is how their team is built. We get more power plays because that’s how we are built. When the refs call a penalty in the first but not the third the game can get out of hand. You can’t just get a bigger stick or it goes back to the “garage league” Mario played in. Only when the NHL decides to fix this will it stop. And that’s all I have to say about that.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      December 10, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Hey Allen. I respect your opinion and I’m sure lots of other Penguins fans feel the same way.

      If I seem a bit reactionary on the subject, it’s because I am. I go back a long ways—to the early ‘70s—and for most of that time the Penguins have been the poundees and not the pounders when it came to the rough stuff. So I’m a bit sensitive about seeing our boys get knocked around.

      I’m not advocating that Shero go out and bring in a bunch of hired guns. But I think you still need enough of a physical presence to discourage other teams from taking liberties, as the Bruins did the other night. The Penguins have “defanged” over the last couple of years to the point where they’re vulnerable to teams like Boston and Toronto. Heck, the Bruins were taking runs at Engelland, and he’s supposed to be our deterrent.

      Another, perhaps greater concern for me is our lack of size, especially up front. The Bruins wore the Penguins down physically to the point where they couldn’t clear the zone in the last couple of minutes, which led directly to the final two goals. I understand that Bylsma’s approach requires speed, a trait generally found in smaller players. But you can’t ignore the need to have some bigger guys in the mix, too.

  6. Sandi's Gravatar Sandi
    December 9, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Great article!

  7. December 9, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Great article!

  8. Mark's Gravatar Mark
    December 9, 2013 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    A very good read and I totally agree…we have to get bigger. Also the crap that went on in that game was just non sense I’m for the time when Steve durbano use to go in the stands and fight fans hockey has come a long way! 99% exciting 1% BS This game was in that 1%

  9. December 9, 2013 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    A very good read and I totally agree…we have to get bigger. Also the crap that went on in that game was just non sense I’m for the time when Steve durbano use to go in the stands and fight fans hockey has come a long way! 99% exciting 1% BS This game was in that 1%

  10. December 9, 2013 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    WE ;OVE YOU BROOKS!

  11. December 9, 2013 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    WE ;OVE YOU BROOKS!

  12. December 9, 2013 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    BRUINS NEED TO PAY THE PRICE OF WHAT THEY DO ON THE ICE!

  13. December 9, 2013 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    I WISH BROOKS A SPEEDY RECOVERY! HOPE YOU ARE OK BUDDY!

  14. December 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    great article, totally agree


            

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