Sunday, January 15, 2006

Predators 5, Penguins 4

Wow. The trifecta almost happened. I have to say I was really surprised. I thought the Penguins were done for, going down 5-1. Then, the play that seemed to turn the tide occurred. Ziggy Palffy was skating horizontally just inside the offensive zone, when Darcy Hordichuk lined Ziggy up and absolutely plastered him. Ziggy went flying, and so did Maxime Talbot... right at Hordichuk. Yes, Tomas Surovy was skating near Hordichuk, getting ready to call him nasty names and perhaps think about getting close enough to bump fearsome Darcy. Talbot didn't really think about anything, except maybe "KILL, KILL, KILL". He skated all the way across the ice, discarding those silly gloves on his hands once he was within about 10 feet of Hordichuk. The fight was over in about 15 seconds, and I'm not sure Maxime won, but the point was made. Talbot had done more to inspire the team in those 15 seconds than they had been able to do for themselves in 25 minutes.

After the fight, the Pens started to play better. They evened up the shots advantage in the second, adding two goals to make it 5-3 along the way. One of the goals was of the flukey variety that usually bites the Penguins (much like the goal earlier in the evening that hit Scott Walker in the head and went in - henceforth known as the Pele Goal).

The Pens continued the onslaught in the third, outshooting the Predators 17-5 and fairly well dominating the play. Leclair, Armstrong, Malone and (of course) Crosby all acquitted themselves quite well. Unfortunately, despite getting to within one goal, they couldn't get the game tying tally. Truthfully, it didn't really feel like they were going to get it either.

The question is, why has it been taking the team so long to get going? Why do they have to get kicked around before they respond? Maybe the team needs one of those inflatable punching dummies in the locker room so they can get themselves fired up. Um... okay, having thought about what I just typed, that might not be a good idea - we've seen this team fight. Too many players would wind up with bruises from when the punching dummy bounced back up. That's all we'd need, to have Bob Errey have to say that someone was missing the game due to the concussion they received from the punching dummy.

Fleury had to come in to relieve Caron, who didn't play very well. The last goal (the Pele Goal) probably wasn't his fault, but he was yanked nonetheless. The real tough question is going to be what to do with Fleury. The team can finish last just as easily with Fleury in the minors, and save a bunch of money in the process. This leads to two problems, however. First, Fleury really needs this development time in the big leagues. He's ready, in my opinion, and I'd love for him to be ready for the next step when the team is in better shape (ie, next season). Secondly, is there anyone else that they can go with? Thibault is possibly out for the year, and Caron or Sabourin haven't shown that they can keep up. Maybe they could limp through with Caron... but I think they need Fleury up here.

No rest for the weary - tomorrow's game is against Vancouver at the Igloo. Preview up tomorrow.

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