Monday, December 27, 2010

GTOPG: Pens Confuse First Period With Morning Skate; Fall to Ottawa, 3-1

By Artistry

The Penguins' game in Ottawa Sunday night was something very few of us - players and fans alike - were truly committed to getting to. Yes, I'm looking at you, too, GTOG Nation. Come on, you're telling me that after the pre-Christmas thriller in D.C., followed by a weekend that, in my case anyway, included no fewer than three Chinese food dinners with accompanying exotic drinks, you were bringing your best to even sitting on your couch and watching the contest at Scotiabank Place? Come on. Imagine if you had to play. This game had "hangover" written all over it. On some nights, not even Dan Bylsma's meticulous preparation and controlled intensity can prevent human nature from making an appearance.

- The first period was the Penguins' worst in memory. They came out with nothing, and if Marc-Andre Fleury hadn't been sharp, this would have gotten out of hand fast.  When is the last time you remember Eric Godard getting embarrassed in a fight?  He didn't go down - I'm not sure Eric Godard even realizes it when he gets punched in the face - but Terry Carkner really did some damage almost right off the draw.  Godsy's going to have to break out his red suit today just to draw attention from his face.

That fight was pretty much the night in a nutshell.

- Great deflection by former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin on the Sens' first goal. Wrong net.  I love the work he and ZZ Blocks have been doing the last few weeks, but the PM needs to be a presence in every zone on a more consistent basis. GTOG has high expectations.

- As bad as it got in the first period, the Pens were thisclose to taking control of the game in the second. Sens goalie Brian Elliot denied Chris Conner on a partial breakaway, then stoned Chris Kunitz on a clean break after Sid sprung him with a pretty lead pass. Kuny tried his patented right-to-left five-hole move that any goalie who watches NHL On the Fly - and they all do, trust me - knows is coming.

- Hands of Freshly Fallen Snow had his worst game in months, a .3 out of 5 on the Bylsma performance scale. Not only did he revert to Hands of Stone, but he also took two brutal, always inexcusable, offensive zone penalties, and seemed personally committed to ending Sidney Crosby's scoring streak at 23 games.

- The smile that briefly played under the Captain's unfortunate mustache after he scored late in the final period tells you all you need to know about the importance to Sid of said streak. Normally, if Sid scores in a game where the Pens are playing that poorly, his lip wouldn't even twitch.

- A quick word about the referees in this game, with the caveat that they had nothing to do with how poorly the Penguins' came out.  They were awful.  They made phantom calls at crucial points, and now they're pretty much back to letting obstruction away from the puck go unpunished.  Have another Coors Lite, boys.

- This was a game where the grinders need to be the difference-makers. We needed one garbage goal by a Cooke or a Kennedy or a Dupuis in the second, and this would have been a different game. We didn't get it. And HCDB looked like he wanted to strangle somebody.

Tuesday night Atlanta comes to Consol. Break's over.

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