Saturday, May 18, 2013

Make Erik Karlsson your bitch; Pens win, 4-3

By GTOG Staff

[Click here to listen to the Game 2 recap podcast]

In some playoff years, seeding really doesn't matter. Just get into the NHL post-season tournament, and you've got as good a shot as anybody. This is not one of those years. While the other two contenders in the East - the Bruins and Rangers - are forging their playoff identities in a crucible of early dogfights, the Penguins got to face some scrappy but ultimately deficient Islanders upstarts and are now two games into a series against an Ottawa team that just benched its best player. If it looks at times like Pittsburgh is playing some JV team in a preseason scrimmage, that is not your imagination.

Crankshaft looks OK with the way things are going.
With Erik Karlsson coming up lame, the Penguins might have the 10 best players in the series. Would you have traded Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, James Neal, Jarome Iginla, Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, or Tomas "I'm average except when I have to be great" Vokoun for any of the Senators that took the ice in the third period last night? No, you wouldn't, no matter how impressive goalie Robin of Gothenberg looked at times. The Penguins are very fortunate to have a chance to find their playoff groove in Round 2 against a team whose best offensive player is probably either Colin Greening or that little Pageau, and it isn't luck that got them here. It's what happen when you win 75% of your games in the regular season. (Unless you're Anaheim or Chicago and draw the Red Wings as a #7 seed).

Ahhh, to be in the East.
Read on for more on Game 2 ...

- A corollary to the team getting a couple of rounds to warm up is Sidney Crosby got a half-dozen games to hit warp speed. Make no mistake about what we're seeing: one of the best half-dozen hockey players in the history of human kind, and perhaps one of the half-dozen most competitive people of all time - with apologies to Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and those guys in their late 20s who take intramural softball way too seriously, none of whom made the cut - at the absolute peak of his powers, serving notice that he wants the Cup. He's going to be a tough out.

- We have no sense of what's going to happen with the goalies. All you can really say about Vokoun is he was good enough. We never felt like the Pens would lose because of him, and he made a spectacular save on Greening on a breakaway. But his hold on the starting job isn't exactly viselike.

What a save, though.
- Perhaps because they sensed they were playing a team as threatening as a Eugene Melnyk forensic investigation, the Penguins power play looked at times like it was killing a penalty. Particularly in the third period, there was no effort real effort to even set up in the Senators zone and get pucks to the net. This would be more upsetting if it weren't so understandable. Still, they should try a little bit.

- We are so thankful anytime time Brian Engblom is between the benches instead of Pierre Mcguire, even though Engblom seemed totally confused by Paul MacLean, the players, and what he was even doing there.

- Strong game by Brenden Morrow but he has to be wondering why he is being punished by having to line up next to Brandon Sutter, with whom he joined in what to our eyes was the worst 2-on-1 of all time. What exactly is Sutter good at? Is he like a defenseman who if you don't hear his name it means he's playing well? We expected him to elevate in the playoffs, but instead he just looks...soff. We're so disappoint.

- This doesn't mean that Sutter is useless -- he did have five blocked shots last night and won 56% of his draws.  It just means that for all the proclamations about how deep the Pens were going into the playoffs, they remain heavily dependent on their top two lines for scoring (not a bad thing when you have 87 and 71). And yes, almost every team relies heavily on its top two lines for scoring.  But the Pens probably had higher hopes for Sutter than making them like every other team.

But the way TK is playing, he makes the Pens not like every other team.
- Jason Spezza is back for Game 3 on Sunday. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

No comments:

Post a Comment