After last night's game, GTOG was pissed. Angry texts were exchanged. Plans for raw emotion podcasts were made. We angrily called out two players who we secretly think get a little too much love in Pittsburgh (Finesse: Orpik; Artistry: Sullivan). This morning, however, with the benefit of some perspective, we're no longer angry about the Pens' lackluster 3-1 loss to the defending Stanley Cup Champion* Boston Bruins. But we're still very disappointed. Let's go plus-minus on this:
1. Where's the edge? The Bruins are known for playing an annoying style with hyper-annoying players like Brad Marchand (who should be suspended for the slew foot on Niskanen). And while the Pens responded to the Bruins' peskiness, the Pens didn't initiate any of it. Everything was reactionary: Niskanen's fight, Vitale's fight, tackling that Pee Wee with the facemask who hit Geno. We love that our guys stand up for each other, and seeing Marchand and Colin Campbell's kid get hit repeatedly in the face is always deeply gratifying, but the whole night it felt like the Pens' "edge" was forced.
|Consistently putting nose where it doesn't belong.|
And then there's Geno. Oh, Geno. You look so graceful, so pretty. You gallop like a Clydesdale leading a pack of ponies. But can you please bury one of your chances? You make incredible moves and then shoot the puck about 4 inches lower than it needs to be. The upper corner is your friend, and you treat the top shelf like it's forbidden. You have no bigger fans than GTOG. But we know what you're capable of, and you're capable of more. Just sayin'.
3. Finish ain't just a language in the Finnic group of the Uralic family of languages. It's fantastic that the Pens out-shot the Bruins 46-27, because we can stick it on the Pens' season-ending award for "most games out-shooting the opponent by double digits and still losing." It's not going to be difficult for the Pens to get shots on anyone; the team is that good. But before you chalk this up to Tim Thomas standing on his head, or the Pens getting some bad bounces, consider the following: Tim Thomas and his creepy mustache play for Boston. He's a great goalie, the best in the league. If anyone is capable of stopping 45 of 46 shots in 4 out of 7 games, it's him. He is their team, so if you can't beat him, then you aren't better than Boston.
|With his eyes closed.|
4. As Mike Tomlin would say, the Penguins got outplayed "in all three phases." It doesn't matter if Letang was out. Failing to scoring on over 3 minutes of 5-3 PP time is unacceptable. The ghost of Mike Yeo.
Having said all that, let's spin positive for a moment. Check out the "plus" side of the legder, after the jump...
1. 95% of Penguins fans say the Pen's will win the Cup; 95% of Penguins fans need to calm the f**k down. The fact that the Pens -- the near consensus "Stanley Cup favorite" -- got punked on their home ice by the defending Cup champs* is not the worst thing in the world. You need these games in December to remind you that you aren't that good, and that other teams are. This wasn't one of those losses that exposed any structural or character flaws in the Pens -- it's a loss to a very good team that played better than the Pens. We have complete confidence that the Pens will handle this loss the proper way -- acknowledge that you got beat, and play better next time.
2. James Neal ain't afraid of no man. There is not one ounce of back-down in Neal, and if there is one thing Zdeno Chara was thinking about when he found himself startled and awake at 3:30 am Tuesday, it's this: "I have to play 30 minutes a night. It's exhausting enough. Please don't make me do it against that guy." Meanwhile, Bob Errey slept soundly last night just hours after regaling a live audience with repeated references to Neal's enormous stick.
4. Paul Martin is back, baby! 29:43 of some of the best defense you'll ever see.
Let's move along. Because you know where we're going on Thursday.