Thursday, May 2, 2013

Five takeaways from the Pens Game 1 take-down of the Islanders

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

Make sure to listen to last night's recap podcast:

We're not sure what to make of Game 1 because pretty much nothing happened that we weren't totally prepared for.  The Pens were the better team.  We already knew that.  The Islanders weren't ready for the increase in intensity that comes with the playoffs.  We already knew that.  Brenden Morrow left a body count.  We already knew that.

If there is a takeaway to focus on, it's Marc-Andre Fleury's shutout, not just because he didn't give up anything, but because he was noticeably calmer and more composed than usual.  It certainly helped that the Pens were giving the extra 5% effort that is routine in the playoffs to get their sticks on shots that would have otherwise been good scoring opportunities.  But Flower shut the door, and that's all that matters.  We're encouraged.

After the jump,. 5 more takeaways from Game 1 ...

1. The Islanders aren't this bad.

Rip Van Winkle saw this wake-up call coming.  If we're making the parallel to 2007 when the Pens lost to the Senators -- which we have made along with everyone ever, it seems -- then we have to carry it through to Game 2.  The Pens won Game 2 in Ottawa.  No one really thought it meant the Pens would win the series, but they had lost their playoff V-card and could now relax.  Same goes for the Islanders.

Impossible to take a bad picture of a goalie change.
2. The Pens are better than they were last night.

As The Pensblog pointed out, it was a bit of a disjointed game with a lot of whistles early.  The first period felt longer than a coach's challenge in an NFL game.  As much as the scoreboard suggests dominance, this was not an all-out bludgeoning.  Part of that is because the Pens could afford to take their foot off the gas up 5-0 with 27 minutes left. Part of it is because the Pens were a little sloppy at times, especially around their own blue line.

3. Iginla on the power-play, Dear God.

If Congress could ever get its shit together to do something reasonable about guns, they'd start by banning what Jarome Iginla did to Evgeni Nabokov's head last night on the Pens' first power-play.  That wasn't a shot; it was an assassination.  Iginla as a right-handed shot looks like the missing ingredient to a Pens power-play that has always been good in the 87-71 era, but never as truly dominant as we all think it can be.  Now, it looks like anything under a 30% conversion rate would be a disappointment.  AND THAT'S WITHOUT THE BEST F'ING PASSER IN THE LEAGUE.  What might the PP look like when Sid comes back to his spot on the right half-boards to loft feathery biscuits into Jarome Iginla's right-handed basket? Imagine that the puck is this piece of popcorn.

4. Game 2 is huge

Let's put on our Mark Schlereth empty-cliche-voice for this one.
You wanna talk about a big game in the National Hockey League and you wanna talk about guys going and doing their jobs in this league then that's what this Game 2 is gonna be all about.  You wanna look at a team like the Islanders and you wanna think about looking at the positive things in Game 1, and then you wanna look at the Pittsburgh Penguins and everything they've done so far this season in the National Hockey League and you wanna think about the opportunity you have if you're the Islanders to get yourselves back in this series and that's the opportunity that's presented upon you in Game 2 because in the National Hockey League there are no do-overs. 
5. The biggest obstacle refuses to go away


  1. Hopefully it's not too serious (i.e. missing 1-2 games)...
    "@pgshelly: Just saw James Neal leaving CEC. Slight limp but no other signs of any problem. No casts, etc. #Penguins"

  2. Last night was what you call taking care of bidness. And it was good to hear y'all finally give Tanger his due on the podcast: boy is just so much fun to watch play. Defensive liability, my behind. I laughed long and hard when he used the B. Morrow backside check to flatten Tavares. Yet another perq of our new grizzled vets!

    And as far as Neal - shit, give him the series off if he needs it. As long as it isn't high-ankle sprain, 4-6 weeks, this team sure looks more than capable of sucking it up. And I would expect Orpik back in the next couple of games - and Sid maybe by game 4: if the jaw wasn't ready on Tuesday, I would guess it would take at least a week to make any real difference in the healing.

    Also- I would like to take this moment to admit that little Sunshine is a far better hockey player than I ever dared to hope coming into this year. Beau knows, and Beau don't care. Cool as a cucumber. Methinks Sid will have a new RW next year.

    1. Thanks, as always, for listening.

      The thing I love about Bennett is he's still getting better. Not a lot of other Pens are in that phase of their career. Fun to watch.

      Letang was the best player on the ice last night, for sure. Makes me wonder: if you could "re-draft" the entire league to pick teams for the next 10 years, would Letang go before Malkin and Tavares?