We're thinking of renaming this feature "Get To Our Post Mortem." The Pens are now 0-3 at the new Consol Energy Center, with the three deflating one-goal losses against three Eastern Conference teams we should beat. Sure, it's early. But inconsistent effort combined with a slew of injuries has GTOG concerned. Some thoughts on last night's loss to Toronto:
- It may be hyperbole to compare the impact of the loss of Brooks Orpik and Zybnek Michalek to what the Steelers endured last season when Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith went down, but not by much. Look at the Leafs first two goals last night. In the first, our new 6th defenseman Andrew Hutchinson committed a brutal turnover, then decided to cover a guy in the high slot, leaving Colton Orr wide open in front of the net. Then, on a Maple Leaf power play, Alex Goligoski and Ben Lovejoy were on the ice when Tomas Kaberle slid a pass right through the box for a wide open shot and goal. Poor spacing, although you can pin that on the forwards as well. And there were numerous other blunders, though Ben Lovejoy made some nice plays.
- Ultimately, the defense is going to be fine. I see no reason to second-guess the signing of Paul Martin. That guy is an anchor. Orpik and Z-Mickle will be back, and will complement the talents of Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski perfectly. The long term problem I see is this team again has no finish. Remember how the Penguins of the 90's would coast along, looking like they weren't even interested in competing, then all of a sudden explode with like three goals on four shots? Well, the current incarnations of the Pens is the exact opposite of that. They need 40 shots to score 4 goals. Problematic, especially when one of our more skilled forwards (Mike Comrie) earned a healthy scratch. Finesse: Exhibits A-Z of Sid's frustration with his wingers: When Dupuis couldn't bury the feed from Sid midway through the 2nd.
- But it isn't just Dupuis or "Hands of Stone" Chris Kunitz (Finesse: Is there anyone less graceful at falling down than Chris Kunitz? Every single person in the arena knows when he falls. He makes Chris Bourque look like Geoff Sanderson). The problem extends right up the chain to Evgeni Malkin. How confident was I that Geno would botch his penalty shot late in the second period? Supremely. I was just upset we didn't get a power play instead.
- Have you ever heard Dan Bylsma call out Marc Andre-Fleury the way he has this week? I'm hard pressed to recall HCDB saying a negative word about anybody. It's usually not his style. He's more of, how do I put this, a "Boys, let's Get to Our Game" type. But Fleury has given up at least three goals in every game he's played this season, and if that trend continues, all of this other talk about the team won't mean very much at all.
- There are a couple of positive takeaways from last night: 1) Eric Tangradi is improving every game. He's going to be a player, but Sid laid it out on a platter for him as he cruised down the slot in the third period, and he needs to get that shot away. 2) This:
- Finesse: I was really worried when I realized Engelland was fighting Colton Orr, especially after the first 10 seconds when it looked like Engelland might actually get decapitated. But he fought back hard and landed a HUGE shot to Orr's chin. What a fight. Big props to Engelland.
- Finesse: It's embarrassing to be 0-3 at home. It really is. Not time to panic, of course, but time to be embarrassed. I've never heard a team credit the opposing team's goalies as often as the Pens do. Memo to the Pens - these other goalies are not that good. The goalies we have lost to so far are: Sergei Bobrovsky, Carey Price, and Jonas Gustavsson. There is no Patrick Roy in that bunch. In fact, there isn't even a Roy Patrick, who probably doesn't even exist but sounds like he would be an awful goalie. Are these other goalies playing well or do the Pens just not score on them? When Dupuis didn't bury Sid's feed, the announcers credited Gustavsson, but in reality, every goalie in the league could have gotten his leg to the same spot. The problem was that Dupuis shot it into the 5% of the net that Gustavsson actually had covered. Gustavsson sounds like a prosecutor from the "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" books, not a goalie who should be shutting down the Pens.