Friday, November 4, 2011

GTOPG: Penguins Score Hat Trick of Hockey Cliches; Fall to Sharks, 4-3 in S/O

By Artistry

Until 1997, the Penguins' made trips to San Jose solely for the purpose of getting Mario 6 points so he could pad his stats enough to be able to sit out tougher games while still winning the Art Ross Trophy. Since then, it's been a house of horrors.  Thursday night, despite an auspicious start, was ultimately no different, because the game played out in textbook fashion.  Please open your book of hockey maxims.

The teacher becomes the student
Chapter 1: Never is a team more vulnerable than in the first period following a lengthy and successful road trip.

How convenient.  Here we had the Sharks coming off a 5-1 east coast jaunt and a lengthy pre-game ceremony honoring Joe Thornton.  Difficult to immediately transition from cradling your adorable young daughter in your arms and basking in the adulation of the home crowd to taking a shoulder to the face from Deryk Engelland, and to their credit, the Penguins understood this.  They chased Anti Niemi with two goals in the game's first two minutes and outshot the Sharks 15-4 in the first period.

Chapter 2: A two goal lead is never safe.

Chapter 3: Thou shalt never be goaded into fisticuffs when thou holdest a two goal lead.

Really, have we learned nothing after all these years?  This is one of GTOG's biggest pet peeves about Dan Bylsma and his staff.  After Craig Adams fought that Frost Giant in the first period, couldn't somebody have said, guys, let's not do anything else to awaken a team that's not missing two of its top three centers, that's not down to 5 defensemen, that won't be obligated to put Mark Letestu on the ice in overtime, from its slumber?  Evidently not.  Because there was Engelland, dropping the gloves with Ryan Clowe at the faceoff at the start of the second period.  Of course this allowed Ryan Clowe to turn to his teammates after the fight, pump his arms, raise the roof, roof a backhander to cut the lead to one, and score the game-winning shootout goal. Who could have seen that coming. 

More analysis after the jump...

- Bylsma suggested after the game that it might have helped the cause if the refs called a single penalty on San Jose, to which GTOG would respond, maybe if the Penguins didn't drop the gloves at the slightest prompting, the Sharks might have been goaded into taking one.

- Marc-Andre Fleury deserved better.  That is an excellent team in San Jose, as evidenced by the 33 mostly high quality shots they fired at MAF in the game's last 45 minutes.  Pavelski, Couture, Clowe, those guys reek of danger.  And you don't want to have to deal with Douglas Murray, who looks like he ate Hall Gill, activating on the forecheck.  They just wore down a Penguins defense that has been mostly exceptional in an early season laced with adversity.  Letang played hurt, which you could tell just by watching him in overtime.  Kris Letang owns regular season overtime.  But not last night.  Niskanen reverted back to feeling-guilty-about-carrying-the-puck-out-of-my-zone mode after taking a knee-on-knee hit in the first.  Prime Minister Paul Martin was under siege and it showed.  Brooks Orpik was getting penalized for perfect hipchecks. 

- And Benny Lovejoy.  Poor Benny Lovejoy.  He messed up his wrist going into the boards in San Jose, and if that sounds familiar, congratulations, you're a Penguins fan.  Because the same thing happened to Mark Eaton 5 years ago. 

- Evgeni Malkin, you just keep soaring like a majestic eagle surveying its rodent prey. We promise we will never run out of metaphors to describe your play. 

Have you ever seen a puma stalk a sheep?
- If you find yourself getting worked up over November losses to west coast powers with Crosby and Staal in street clothes, take a breath.

The Penguins are tied with Toronto for most points in the NHL. Kings on Saturday.  LGP.  GTOG.

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