Friday, April 1, 2011

GTOPG: Tampa Sucks; Pens Lose 2-1

By GTOG Staff

Let's get one thing out of the way, just in case it wasn't clear from the headline: Tampa sucks. They certainly have plenty of top end talent, but that team's whole strikes us as somehow less than the sum of its parts. The Bolts are a team that plays a trap game as soon as they get up by one goal. That would be a sound strategy if you were playing the 1995 Penguins, but it made no sense on Thursday night.  If you're anything like us, then you were texting your friends late in the first period and throughout the second period talking about how the Pens were playing terribly and the playoffs were looking like a one-and-done scenario.  And then you overheard the Tampa announcers (because you're watching on the Package) talk about how the Pens are totally outplaying Tampa and started the second period with a 9-0 advantage in shots.  You probably did a double-take and came to the only conclusion that you possibly could.  That's right.  Tampa sucks.

Tampa _ _ _ _ _
- Even though Tampa sucks, could the Pens lose to Tampa in the first round? Absolutely.  Tampa may have the four most skilled players in the series - St. Louis, Stamkos, Lecavalier, and Gagne - and they have a power play that clicks at over 20%.  They'll have Ryan Malone in front of the net.  The Penguins power play has Max Talbot falling forward in trying to win an offensive zone faceoff and immediately allowing a 3-on-2 the other way.  The advantage the Lightning have in this area right now cannot be overstated. 

- None of this is to say that the Pens will lose to Tampa.  In fact, GTOG maintains that the Pens will be the favorite in the series and probably should win.  Remember the takeaway from last night: Tampa sucks.

Tampa _ _ _ _ _
- The first key to success for Pittsburgh will be Marc-Andre Fleury.  He can keep the Penguins in any game and in any series.  The second key will be the power play.  If it can muster even 3 goals in the series - something very much in question - we like Pittsburgh's chances.  And here's the third key:  Kris Letang.  We've been touting him since October as one of the best defensemen in the league, and he deserves the accolades, but he played an immature game last night.  He got visibly frustrated.  He yelled at the referrees.  Guys were getting under his skin.  It didn't help that he took a Lecavalier elbow to the head that directly resulted in the St. Louis game-winner.  But let's be clear-eyed about this.  Since the wave of injuries that altered the course of the Penguins' season, Letang has shown a tendency to try to do it all himself, forcing the play, taking unnecessary risks, and going all Darius Kasparitis on opposing forwards when the situation maybe calls for a little more Rob Scuderi.  Can he be the leader the Penguins need right now?  This bears watching. 

Less Darius, please
- If you don't despise Steve Downie by now, give it 20 more minutes.

- Stamkos, upon whom we couldn't have possibly heaped more praise early in the season unless he had split the D and kicked Jon Casey in the nuts, was largely a non-factor last night.  There's really only one Tampa player who scares us, and his name is Marty.  But to avoid jinxing it and unleashing him on a 2-goal-per-game fury in Round 1, everybody say it with us, "Man, I'm terrified of Stamkos."  Little Stevie did make one very good play last night, manhandling Brooks Orpik to free up a loose puck that Kris Letang didn't even pretend to fight for before Tampa stuffed home their first goal. The way Stamkos dislodged Orpik was very impressive and reinforces that you don't have to be big to hit people, you just have to be a great skater.

- Anyone else go to bed terrified of Dwayne Roloson?  Oh wait, no one does.

- Zbynek Michalek is going to be a joy to watch in the postseason.  He may block every single Tampa shot.  What a signing.

- Eight-foot tall Victor Hedman wanted no part of Tyler Kennedy during a second period scrum.  That was straight baby thighs, son.  Vic, this is not a rec league.  Wait until you're on Consol ice for four games and the Pens start throwing the puck into your corner just to let James Neal and Chris Kunitz punish you.  Thanks for the playoff preview. 

Straight baby thighs, son
- We can't blame you if you came away from the game last night with a pit in your stomach.  Keep your chin up.  It sounded like Aron Asham was talking about Mario Lemieux on Thursday.
"He looks good.  I'm pretty sure he could lace them up tonight and play and be a force," Asham gushed.  "He's just so much better than everyone else. He can be out for a year and he'd probably come back and still lead the league [in scoring].  He's just that talented."


  1. All Steiggy and Bob could go on about was how great Roloson looked. I could look great too if pucks were just shot relatively softly to my chest all day through zero traffic.

    On a positive note, is it just me or does the addition of James Neal look more and more like one of GMRS's best aquisitions?

  2. No question. It's all there but the finish. And that's going to come. He should have had two goals last night.