So who came to play tonight? Here are my thoughts:
- Max Talbot - You noticed every time he was on the ice. He was a step faster than we're used to seeing (and that's saying something) and he was finishing off every check. You could see why he was playoff MVP twice in juniors.
- Sidney Crosby - He was blanketed and frustrated for most of the game. That being said, I never saw anyone get a clean hit on him. He also didn't back down from anyone (when Whitney was high-sticked, Sid was the first one to jump on the Senators) and he put in a late goal. I think that'll carry over for him into game 2. Sid was also 19-10 on faceoffs - that's huge.
- Marc-Andre Fleury - He was hung out to dry by his teammates several times, but he single-handedly kept the game close through the first two periods. One man cannot hold back the flood, and he eventually faltered, giving way to Thibault later in the third. He needs some help from his team.
Who was invisible?
- Mark Recchi - Mark had the quietest two point night I've ever seen. Other than one good shift in the second, I really didn't notice him on the ice.
- Evgeni Malkin - If he wasn't busy getting knocked on his butt, Geno was busy losing faceoffs. He won only TWO of EIGHTEEN faceoffs! That has to be the worst performance I've heard of in recent memory.
- The Team - as a whole, these guys weren't ready for what the Senators were bringing. They couldn't stand up to the onslaught, and couldn't seem to answer the challenge physically until later in the game. Hopefully that sets a tone for game #2.
If things don't change, and change in a big way, this is going to be a quick series. The Pens were outshot 29-12 through the first two periods, and that's despite having some serious time on the power play.
I'm already hating the Senators. Are you? They took every opportunity to apply borderline (ie, cheap) hits, basically trying to bully the Penguins. I'm hoping the Pens get to tell them where to stick it before the series is over. I'd like to say more, but this is an all-ages blog. Blech.
Next up - in Ottawa on Saturday afternoon at 3:00. The Pens start slow in early games - they can't afford that on Saturday or they'll be run out of the building.