A few leftover thoughts about last night's 3-0 loss to Boston. But first, check out the podcast.
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5. The Showdown
The Crosby/Chara and Malkin/Bergeron showdowns at the end of the second period are getting a lot of attention, and rightfully so. It's too soon to tell whether this was a good or a bad thing, but there's a lot not to like about it.
|Very little good can come from this.|
The other potential problem with their "standing up for themselves" response is that it's not very logical. Whatever Boston did to get Crosby and Malkin that upset (and maybe it was simply frustration with not scoring), does anyone think that Boston is going to stop messing with 87 and 71 because they fight back? Does anyone really think any of the Bruins are going to be afraid of getting their asses kicked by Crosby and Malkin? If Crosby and Malkin are reacting like that, then it means that they're at least somewhat rattled emotionally and obviously Boston will try to keep doing that if that's the response they can get from those two guys. Boston is only going to stop with that stuff when the scoreboard dictates that they have to stop.
New motto: Ignore and Score.
Four more thoughts after the jump...
4. The bottom 6 has become necessary
As we discussed on our podcast, the Pens are going to need contributions from the bottom 6 to win this series. Our initial thought was that scoring from the bottom 6 would be sufficient to beat Boston, but not necessary. After game 1, it looks more necessary than ever. Boston is going to load up, as they should, to stop the Pens' top 6, and they're good enough that they might be able to. If the bottom 6 doesn't contribute offensively, the Pens could easily lose this series. It's not enough that the bottom 6 wasn't on the ice for any of Boston's goals. They need to be on the ice for Pittsburgh's goals.
Some numbers so far in the playoffs:
Good: Kennedy (5 points in 8 games)
OK: Morrow (4 points in 11 games)
We're seeing some things, but need to see more: Cooke (3 points in 12 games); Jokinen (3 points in 7 games)
We know not to expect much, but it would be nice every once in a while: Adams (1 point in 12 games); Glass (1 point in 5 games); Vitale (1 point in 4 games); Bennett (1 point in 4 games)
Really disappointing: Sutter (2 points in 12 games)
|There are 132 action shots from game 1 on the Pens' website. Brandon Sutter is in 1 of them.|
3. Hit the net
As Dejan Kovacevic pointed out in his column this morning, the Pens need to focus on hitting the net, not necessarily picking corners. The Pens got a lot of good looks, especially early, but channeled their inner-Alex Semin and airmailed them way over the net. When the Pens missed the net off the rush, these misses started Boston's breakouts at least a handful of times in the first period. And even though we're pretty close to being done worrying about the PP combinations, because all of the combinations are good, the emphasis needs to be on more traffic. Doesn't matter who.
2. Easy on the pinching
Letang wasn't at his worst, but also wasn't at his best. He seemed dedicated to pinching on almost every opportunity last night -- great if it works, nightmare when it doesn't. Boston isn't Ottawa -- not only can they get the puck past Letang when he pinches, they can score when they do. This certainly didn't cost the Pens the game, but it's something to watch going forward.
Refereeing is our least favorite topic. The Pens didn't lose the game last night because of officials -- the Pens PK was perfect, and they had 4 power-plays. No complaints on that front.
But the 5-minute major on Cooke was ridiculous. It's such a difficult call for the refs to make at full speed, and it's such an impactful decision to give a guy 5 and a game, why not let this be subject to video review? I hate anything that slows the game down, but if the ref believes in his decision to give 5 and a game, let's take away the excuse that things happen quickly. Make him look at it again, and then decide. If he makes the wrong decision after video review, then the league should discipline him. Or just let the league review it.
Bottom line: No panic heading into Game 2. The Pens know what they have to do to win, they just have to do it. And not stop doing it if it isn't working right away.