Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pens Postgame Podcast: Pens fall to Leafs 5-2

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The Pens went down with a whimper to Toronto on Wednesday night.  We discuss the game and where our confidence level stands after three games.

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  1. My goodness - exaggerate much. Let's wait at least ten games before throwing up our hands about how deeply flawed this team is. One loss (however bad) doesn't undo impressions of the last two games. That's just silly. We're 3 games into a season that didn't even have a training camp.

    The Pens didn't lose last night because of personnel. They lost because they had no interest in managing the puck and got out-worked. Period. And then they spent more than half of a period killing penalties that didn't exist, while the Leafs committed at least 3 trips that weren't called.

    This teams problem is their attitude - getting distracted by the bad calls (though they handled it pretty well yesterday, given how bad the officiating was) and failing to put forth the effort every night. They have a really bad habit of trying to be cute: the sloppy play is a habit, but one that is fixable.

    Let's let the team gel and find it's legs before we're all bridge-jumping.

    1. Brandy, I don't think we're exaggerating or bridge-jumping now and more than we were in our season preview, when we said exactly the same thing about the defense. Clearly, the Pens can beat any team on any given night with the defense as currently constituted - and they have. The issue is whether this is a Stanley Cup winning unit. You may think it is, and you are usually right. We disagree.

    2. Brandy -- I re-listened to make sure we weren't being too negative, and I don't think that's the sense we conveyed. So I have to disagree with you that the problem is their attitude.

      The fundamental point is that the same things that were good about this team last year are still good (no need to name them), but the same things that were shaky are still shaky. There is no measure by which the personnel has improved since last season, at least on paper. It is our belief that while the way in which the Flyers series went down may have been an aberration, the fact that the Pens did not win the Cup was not an aberration. We weren't good enough.

      The model for optimism this year would have to be based on 2008-09 when we came into the season having lost Malone and Hossa. On paper, the Pens were a worse team. But Shero made some smart moves and, more importantly, the superstars developed into better superstars so by the end of the year the team was actually better despite no Malone and Hossa. Unfortunately, we are probably past the part of their careers where Sid and Geno and Fleury get better, so the questions are: what moves can Shero make and which players stand a realistic chance of getting better?

      I'm too out of the loop currently to answer the first question so I'll take the second one. And the answer isn't a hopeful one.

      Letang is the one guy who should be getting better and entering superstar status(as discussed last night), but what I see is a guy standing still -- immensely talented, but mentally flawed and wildly inconsistent. We keep saying it's fixable. If so, it's time for him to fix it.

      The other candidates for improvement? Despres is the obvious choice, but does that really give the Pens some advantage over other teams? Everyone has late first round picks that are supposed to be developing into every day players. Niskanen? Sutter? Jeffrey? There's some room for growth from those three, but it's not guaranteed and even if it was, it's not exactly a murderers row of talent. Thus, we're back to question 1 -- how can Shero improve the lineup?

      You attribute the loss to the Pens not having an interest in managing the puck and getting out worked. Fine, but these are the same guys who didn't have an interest in managing the puck and got outworked by the Flyers last year. Whether it's the personnel's attitude or the personnel's talent is sort of irrelevant ... it's the personnel.

      The Pens are a really good team. But the flaws are evident and predictable.