Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Panthers 4, Penguins 3 (OT)

So what can you say? The Pens did everything they needed to do to win this game. They gritted it out. They scrapped and fought. Then when they took the lead in the third period, you thought "They might do this". But then Gonchar takes a weak hooking call (that he didn't need to commit, in my opinion) and Thibault give up a blast from near the blue line. Then with 18 seconds left, Lemieux is called for interference. Not sure what he did, as the sucky OLN coverage couldn't show us anything resembling a replay, but he was completely irate at O'Halloran (the ref). In OT, on the power play, Stephen Weiss scores his first of the year on a nice shot and Florida scores four goals for the first time all year.

The Pens easily played well enough to win this game. They possessed the puck pretty well. They would have scored several times in the first period if not for the play of Roberto Luongo. Why can't we get that kind of play out of Thibault?

Speaking of Thibault, none of the four goals he gave up were particularly good. I know slappers will go in every now and then. On the game winner, Weiss roofed the shot, and Thibault was on his knees waving at the puck with his glove hand. He went down way too early. If he stays up and is in good position to challenge the shot, it might go off of his left shoulder instead of into the back of the net. The second goal was another one that was a really bad goal to give up (though the specifics of that one are escaping me right now, as I still am in disbelief over the way the Pens lost this one).

Offensively, Crosby did everything humanly possible to win the game. He drew six penalties on his own through effort and force of will. He almost pulled a Jagr and scored after being hauled down. He is easily the best player on the ice for the Pens right now. Everyone else did their thing. Lemieux had some hop in his step, as he had a breakaway chance in the third, and Palffy played well offensively and defensively (I noticed him backchecking and covering the middle of the ice several times).

This one was really disappointing to lose, but if they continue the effort they made tonight, get a little better with not taking the penalties, get a little better goaltending, and keep getting quality scoring chances, they'll start winning soon enough. I'm still hopeful!


Pronovost said...

Re: Final penalty

They did show one (poor) replay, from ice level and with others in the foreground. It looked like an inadvertent collision but I can see how the official called it. Besides, with the imbalance in penalties overall, it’s tough to complain too much. Well, unless you’re Mario.

This wouldn’t have been a very satisfying win anyway. Not that we can be choosy at this point. But really, the PP is a joke. Florida hadn’t played since Thursday and had to have been distracted because of the hurricane. Pittsburgh had a chance to bury them early and blew it, as much due to their own tightness as to Luongo’s play.

Thibault has to go. Now. If Fleury is in net for this game, the Pens win.

Trent said...

Unreal. I knew it couldn't happen. The powers that be conspired against the Pens, embodied in an overzealous referee. I'm sorry, but you can't call hockey the way you call football. There's gotta be a way to give the referees discretion without completely abdicating on continuing the crackdown on hooking and holding. In the last minute of play, you have to let some things slide. IN GENERAL, i think the game would be served by letting things slide. The garage league has turned into the girl's league.

I'll be waiting for Mario to get fined for going off on the ref, maybe even suspended. But i gotta wonder, do the refs ever get fined for making bonehead calls?

As for the team, Tarnstrom continues to impress. He will make Patrick look downright foolish for considering dumping his contract because of his "awesome" signing of the hapless Russian. Brooks also played a very impressive game. Super physical, made lots of smart plays, he made the Panther players pay time and time again when he was on the ice. I'm surprised and thrilled with the sudden return to his old form. The team needed it.

In general i think the defense looked reasonably good. There was no running around, few dumb penalties and lots of smart, conservative plays. The defense has little blame in this loss.

As for Mario: He's old and his time has come. He needs to accept his limitations in this faster, more rigorous NHL. I can't help but look in his direction for the power play's lack of success in the first period. C'mon, the team has some fantastic power play personnel and he has to let go of the reigns a bit. They can't just depend on setting up on the left boards and wait for him to hit a one timer. It's not working. He's still a force to be reckoned with, but he has to use his head a bit more and let the younger guys, not only do the dirty work, but even some of the puck carrying. Because he botches that simple task far too often.

And i won't even dignify discussing T-bo. Bring back Aubin, as far as i'm concerned. Or maybe that IS Aubin...

Hopefully the Penguin's resemblence to a competitive team wasn't due to Florida's lack of talent. Thursday should be a good follow up. After this game, i think it's conceivable that the team could turn this around and rattle off a couple wins. If the D holds steady, if Malone continues to improve and Recchi and Leclair start to click, if Fata hits his obligatory perennial streak sometime soon, this team should be looking good.

You can't be a Penguin fan without hope.

Trent said...

Here's an excellent article that puts Sidney's 9 games into context.

I can't agree more with the premise, namely that this is no longer Mario's team. It's is The Kid's.