Monday, November 14, 2005

Islanders 3, Penguins 2 (OT - SO 3-2)

First off, the shootout was awesome. I think Thibault would like to have two of the goals back, but to stop six out of nine shooters is great. Better yet, unfortunately was DiPietro. He made some great saves against the more talented Pens shooters. With this shootout (NINE shooters per side), the weak spot of the format might have been exposed (though you could argue that it's not often that you go beyond the first three shooters). Once the Islanders used the Dark Prince himself (Satan) as their fourth shooter, the rest of them were a bunch of guys named Moe. The game winner by Blake was a fluke, as he lost the puck off of his stick, only to recover and somehow sweep it past Thibault's stick and tap it into the open net. Not every team can feature household names like Recchi, Palffy and Leclair AFTER their first three shooters.

Secondly, this game was a coming out party for Eric Christensen. He proved he belongs here in the NHL as far as I'm concerned. He made a great pass to Crosby for the first goal and fired a great shot on the short side to beat DiPietro. He then got a goal in the shootout with a great move when the Pens needed the goal to keep going. He and Crosby were basically the only players playing well for the Pens tonight.

The first two periods, heck even most of the third, were some of the worst hockey I've ever seen. The Pens looked slow and couldn't get a decent scoring chance. That they had 36 shots is really deceiving. They picked it up a little bit in the third and had a few chances in the OT. Other than that, you or I may as well have been out there shooting the puck. Of course, if I were out there and saw my goalie get bumped and run over a few different times, the first thing I'd do is provide a little bit of payback. Even if the contact with Thibault was incidental (which it wasn't), you have to make the other team hesitant to come to the goal crease with speed.

I'm not sure what the problem is with the Penguins. They certainly don't seem to be playing with any passion. Maybe it's a confidence problem... I don't know. One thing though, they did get some hop in their step after Crosby's goal. They started to have some success getting the puck into the offensive zone and controlling it. That's how Christensen got the game tying goal. Heck, even Odelein carried the puck end to end. The Pens need to find a way to jump start themselves early in the game, with or without a goal. Maybe on Wednesday against the Flyers, send VandenBussche out to pummel someone early...

One more thing - Rick DiPietro was amazing, especially in his stick handling ability. The Pens had more dump-ins that were cutoff and handled by DiPietro. When I say "handled", I don't just mean that he set the puck for the defense behind the net. He took the puck and made a breakout pass to start the rush. He was truly the third defensemen, much like Brodeur has been in the past. Watching him and comparing his play to Thibault... it was sad. Fleury is a goalie with skills much more similar to DiPietro. If Thibault finally gets it together, then great. Otherwise, let's see Fleury.


Will said...

What can you say about last night? They played really, really bad and still scraped a point out of it. I agreee with you Pat, they just seem so unemotional at the start of games. I also agree that when they play Philly, send someone out early to lay a big hit or just fight at the opening drop. Anything to get the team (and fans) into the game.

This is my one gripe about last night. Why did Eddie change the lines up so much. I realize that Malone was a HS but some of the pairings he put out there seemed odd. I don't claim to know anything about coaching but I thought you would want to keep lines together as much as possible to start some chemistry between the players. I know your going to fiddle with them some but it seems every other night they come out with an entirely new lineup. Like I said, I don't know crap about coaching but I was just wondering.

Bottom line...they are still only 9 points away from the lead.

Pronovost said...

I'll offer two gripes. One, why use Whitney in the shootout? I realize they were deep into the bench at that point, but how about Fata or another forward?

Two, how in the world can that team come out so flat after getting crushed the previous game? I'm accepting the notion that the Pens realistically aren't nearly as talented as they seemed in September, but some of their problems -- to my eyes, anyway -- stem from plain lack of effort. And there's just no excuse for that.