Sunday, April 22, 2012

GTOG Raw Emotion Podcast: Pens Eliminated by Flyers in Six Games

Tough way to end the season. Finish it out with GTOG as we discuss what went wrong, and what can be done to fix it.

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  1. Thanks for the podcast. Every time we're knocked out of the playoffs it feels like your girlfriend just broke up with you.

    I thought Fleury was totally out of gas coming into the playoffs. I wrote in a comment about a month ago that this is the first time we see his game slip in March instead of improve. Don't compare him to other goalies - he did play more games than in any other year. Worse, in some of these games he came in relief of Johnson, meaning he couldn't get his his scheduled rest. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I want to believe that a fresh Fleury can carry this team in the playoffs next season.

    The horrible PK - I think it starts with Fleury, too. A shaky goalie kills the confidence of a defense. They don't challenge the d-men as much, they don't forecheck as deep as they are used to, because they're afraid, or rather know, that if the forwards get behind them, it's a sure goal.

    I'm just afraid the Pens now enter the Sharks-Canucks-Caps club, where the regular season doesn't matter anymore. You can get 60 wins during the season, but people will only be interested in whether and when you fail in the post-season, and everything short of an SCF, or even a Cup, is considered a failure. This mindset eventually destroyed these three teams. The only difference for the Pens is that they don't dominate their division as Vancouver does and Washington and SJ used to.

    Yeah, this was definitely a wasted opportunity. Last year was frustrating because you couldn't help thinking what might have been had everyone stayed healthy. This year everyone came back just in time and we were just waiting to get our due chance. And we botched it. No one to blame this time. October seems so far away...

  2. Great stuff as always, P.Co. Appreciate you reading the site and chiming in.

    Totally agree about the regular season issue. At this point it's meaningless other than getting scoring titles and keeping Sid from getting another concussion. Otherwise, I don't think it matters what seed we have in the playoffs. It's time to make another deep run regardless.

  3. Nice work on Twitter this season, and thanks for the podcasts.

    I'm sure there will be people who will point to this series -- and game 6 in particular -- as some sort of Crosby failure, but I wouldn't go too hard on him. That Malkin hit in game 5 looked like it hurt (so did ramming into the post), and let's not forget what 87's been dealing with since 1/1/11. Physically & emotionally, I can't see how he's as playoff-ready as he would have been with a full, healthy season behind him. We know he's a big moments kinda guy, and today, he couldn't muster that big moment. It may be a while yet before we see what Sidney Crosby play the way he should be playing as a 24/25-year-old superstar. He's still hockey's best -- let's give him time to settle back in.

    Malkin... I love Malkin. I love the big year he had, the big goals he scored, the big plays he made, and I love that he doesn't take any crap from his opponents. But he couldn't hit the net in the first half of the series, and he was too reckless too often. He took dumb penalties. He played too close to the edge of dirty, instead of playing the perfect, intense, dominating hockey we saw in the regular season and in the '09 playoffs. He's a big guy with a big heart, he has talent to spare, but he was mostly out-of-control for too long against Philly. I was disheartened to see him screaming at Neal in front of the cameras today.

    Neal needed to score some big goals, and a lot more of them. He did not look like a 40-goal man in this series. He had to be better and more effective than Briere or Jagr.

    Other forwards... Staal was great, but too late. And that game 1 OT gaffe is not what we should expect from him. Kunitz was not the grinding force he needed to be, and was largely ineffective. Sullivan did not play smart hockey often enough -- and that giveaway early in game 6 hurt badly. Cooke was in danger of being outplayed by Tangradi.


  4. The point about Fleury being worked too hard through the regular season is a good one. Johnson was miserable this season, and the pressure that put on Fleury was immense. It might not fully explain 29's horrendous collapse, but there just might be something to it. This is a goalie who hadn't struggled since the beginning of the 2010-11 season. Suddenly, he caves as the playoffs approach. Coincidentally, he didn't seem the same to me after he got hammered by Paul Martin in that game against the Isles on March 27. Just another bit of bad Martin mojo...

    Speaking of him, he was the number one liability this team had this year, and through the first half of the series. Yeah, Fleury was bad, but Martin's nonsensical, ineffective pinches and general bad play were easy to exploit. Three years left on his $5-million-per deal, and he's the one guy I never want to see in a Pens uniform again.

    Michalek might not have been stellar (and yes, I really miss Scuderi & Gill too... never mind Talbot & Rupp), but he wasn't as miserable as Martin. The one guy who might have been as wretched as Martin was Lovejoy. He gave away game 2. This series might show why he's not NHL material. Engelland was decent, Orpik was Orpik, Niskanen was pretty brave & effective when he returned, and Despres & Strait did okay when thrust into a terrible situation.

    But let's finish by talking about Kris Letang.

    Brilliant defenseman. We know what he can do at both ends of the ice. Problem is, he sometimes suffers from inconsistent, sloppy play which can come across as cavalier. And if there's a word I would have used to describe what I saw from the Penguins when they had the leads in games 1 & 2, it's cavalier. They played Kris Letang hockey.

    He has to grow up, play every shift, and stop taking unnecessary risks. When Kris Letang plays smart, solid hockey, he's unstoppable. Same with the Penguins.


    Learn. Adjust. Return. Win.

    I love my team. I want them to feel the sting of this one, though. Feel it burn, then turn it into something positive. Be hungry. Want it more than their opponents.

    A lot more.