Penguins Dodge a Bullet – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Dodge a Bullet

At least one good thing resulted from the Penguins’ sloppy 4-3 overtime loss to archrival Philadelphia in the latest installment of the Commonwealth Cold War. The Flyers eliminated themselves as an opening-round opponent for the black and gold.

pp0445Heck, if I were Flyers coach Craig Berube I would’ve kept goalie Ray Emery on the bench to start overtime and let the Pens shoot at an empty net. And why not? Philly’s had our number since the disastrous first-round series two seasons ago. They’ve beaten us four straight games…and had a relatively easy time doing it.

The Penguins should thank their lucky stars they don’t have to face Philly. They’d better get their act together—pronto. With the exception of an inspired effort against Chicago on March 30, they haven’t played a full 60 minutes of hockey since well before the Olympic break. A burst here and there might be sufficient to beat Buffalo in February. It most assuredly won’t be enough to carry them past the first round of the playoffs, no matter who they play.

The same flaws and breakdowns recur over and over again with mind-numbing regularity. The forwards are allergic to the slot. There’s zippo physical presence on the top two lines. Wayne Simmonds and his fellow Flyer henchmen chipped away at Sidney Crosby all game long without a whimper of retaliation. In the waning moments the Pens once again showed little ability to defend or protect Marc-Andre Fleury.

Speaking of “Flower,” they’d better hope his sieve-like performance on Saturday was just a blip on the radar screen. If it’s a preview of what’s in store, the Penguins will be breaking out their golf clubs and scheduling tee times sooner than anyone wants to imagine.

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  1. 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
    April 16, 2014 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Good stuff, Rick! We sound like a broken record saying basically the same things for the past month or so.

    Unfortunately, again this year, I’m not exactly brimming with confidence but hoping they get off their asses and play solid hockey. I think they can beat Columbus but I won’t be surprised if it goes the distance. I also thought it was funny that Philly passed on a possible chance to draw the Pens in the first round. My hat’s off to them for doing the right thing. Better the Rangers deal with them.

    If the Pens get back to basics and play a sound, unadorned and smart game, they can beat anyone. We know they’re capable of being the quick transitioning, puck possession team they say they are. The talent is there. I hope it’s not too late for them to figure out how to do that because as we well know, since the Olympic break, they’ve “dropped the puck” on that one.

    In the end it will come down to the simple, basic things: They have to score more goals than the other team. I don’t mean to imply that’s a simple thing but I think simplicity should be their watch word. I’d rather they impress themselves by holding a lead and winning close games than to insist on trying to make slick passes and highlight reel goals. And, of course, there’s that goaltending thing, too. If they don’t stand up in front of Fluery and he melts, so does the ice at Consol until October.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      April 16, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      As always, great thoughts and comments 55 on Point.

      Your explanation of what the Penguins must do in order to be successful in the postseason was spot on. It really is kind of simple, isn’t it? Make the smart play, be responsible with the puck, protect your goalie, and trust that your big guns will deliver the offense as needed.

      If only the Pens would follow that formula. Unfortunately, their tendency to push the offense at all costs and make overly fancy plays is so ingrained. I’m also concerned about their penchant for making east-west passes through the slot instead of attacking down the middle. In the playoffs so many goals come from scrambles around the net, rather than on shots from the perimeter.

      I also fear the Pens are weak defensively around their own net. If an opposing team has the ability to apply a hard forecheck and keep the pressure on, I think we’re vulnerable.

      Let’s hope I’m wrong on all counts and the Penguins go on to win the Stanley Cup!


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