Friday, April 26, 2013

That feeling in the pit of your stomach is healthy; Pens lose, 3-2

By Artistry (follow me on Twitter)

There's fear in the air in Pittsburgh. Or at least at my gym. Jerry the Trainer bet me and a middle-aged gentleman doing squat thrusts that the Penguins won't make it out of Round 2 of the playoffs. Doug, the other trainer, shook his head slowly and said he didn't see how they'll win a playoff game given the way the Pens performed last night. Let me be clear. I don't think Jerry and Doug have any idea what they're talking about. But the feeling of dread that they're articulating is legitimate and - based on long experience - healthy.

Did the Penguins peak too soon? Not at all. We haven't even seen the Penguins. Not with Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Kris Letang, and Paul Martin all together on the bench at the same time. There is still no telling what this group could do.

But here they were in New Jersey, giving up a third period lead for the first time all season (they're now 19-1 when leading after two), with Malkin trying to work his way back to top form but Sid, Neal, and Martin still on the shelf, and often looking like their heads were somewhere else. Then we find out that in all likelihood we're getting the Islanders in Round 1. Out of all the remaining possibilities, that's the last team we want to see. Why?

1. They're lighting quick. Crankshaft, go put a body on Michael Grabn--oh, I'm sorry, he's already taking a post-game shower.

2. Evgeni Nabokov. Pretty sure neither Malkin nor Crosby have scored a goal against him. EVER. Who has the goaltending advantage here? Are we sure it's the Penguins? Really, are we positive?

3. 1993. Don't really want to talk about this here. Just listen if you want.

Add to this list the fact that the Penguins were losers in their last three playoff series. Of course we're uneasy.  The Penguins should be, too. If John Tavares skates onto the Consol ice next week, they should feel tremendous apprehension, even fear. This is a good thing and should provide great comfort. You're probably wondering why that is, how the creeping doubt, Neil Greenberg saying we're no good at puck possession, that feeling that we're on the verge of enormous disappointment, could ever inure to our benefit. Well, have you ever seen a herd of frightened elephants?


  1. Syonarra.... suckas!!!

  2. i'm always nervous about the playoffs because anything can happen, but last night didn't make me feel anything remotely like worry. a team with nothing to lose dropped a game to a team with nothing to gain. big deal.

    i'm more upset by the discussion i heard on the radio from bob grove last night asking if, when everyone is healthy, there are spots on this team for jokinen and bennett. his justification for tanner glass was that he's "played in every game this season". ummm so what?


    that's how i roll if everyone's healthy. keep adams ready in case someone goes down or needs a rest.

  3. Have to break up Neal and Iginla, IMO. That line just feels too forced. We have conferred and feel good about Sid-Kunitz-Iginla and Geno-Neal-Dupuis, but I could be talked into any combination that splits up the snipers and puck retrievers. Love that Morrow-Jokinen-Bennett combo.

  4. I don't think there's even any need for speculation. Lines at practice were:

    So Sid slots in where Jokinen is - and Jokinen bumps either Glass or TK out of the line-up. Quite frankly, I hope it's both. And I think it's bs that Bennett will sit. I think it's even more bs that Jokinen's productivity with be gone when saddled with Adams and TK or Glass, good as he's been. You know- way more productive then Sutter. Complete bs.

    Mine line-up would be:
    10-36-19 (Yes! As Artistry said: give him some damn talent around him!)
    24-16-48/15 (don't even care)

    That said - whatever line-up goes in should win. As far as match-ups, screw history. These Pens have had a traditionally harder time against the Sens, especially with Karlsson back. And I would rather see Nabokov in net than Anderson or Lundquist (yes, yes, I know they score on him. But it doesn't mean with a rejuvenated line-up, he couldn't steal a series). A series against the Rangers would be far more physical, win or lose, than I want to see first round.

    The Isles - if that's who it is - are going to score. They will - probably even win a couple games. But we've had no trouble putting pucks in the net against them either. And I have no problem at all expecting this Pens team to just outscore them. People have also made far to little of their inexperience - it matters.

    1. Opps - forgot Adams! He's in that 48/15 slot - we need him to pk.

    2. Brandy -- great point on Isles inexperience. We've been talking about that a lot offline. Despite their offensive explosiveness, that's probably the main reason I'd prefer the Isles over the Rangers or Senators (though I'd be ok with Ottawa, too).

      Best case scenario for the Pens is that a series with the Isles would have a lot of parallels to the Pens-Sens 2007 series which was Crosby and Malkin's first taste of the playoffs.