Tag Archives: Chris Osgood

Pens 1 Red Wings 3 (again)

image from msnbc.com

image from msnbc.com

Game Recap

Ouch.  We have another decent game, and we just can’t win.  Literally.  Sustained pressure resulted in an advantage in shots.  We got a power play goal.  There were no more crazy bounces off the boards.  This were going our way.  But a couple of dirty goals and the first true softy of the series later, and we’re in an 0-2 hole.

This doesn’t seem fair, does it?  We’ve had two pretty good games and nothing to show for it.  It seems like luck is totally on the side of Detroit right now.  Frustration is settling in on Pens fans.  Something must be wrong if we’ve played well twice and lost.  But what is it?  I’ve heard a lot of grumbling about the officiating.  I’ve heard that the superstars need to get us on the board more.  Most people seem to blame Fleury.  I don’t agree with any of them.  Let me tear down those three arguments and then i’ll place blame where I see it.

Lets get to the refs first.  The Wings are slashing like its going out of style.  They’re covering up pucks in the blue paint.  They’re getting away with penalties left and right.  But as long as its not being called, you have to play on.  We have guys that can deke you out of your skates and see the ice like no one else on earth.  A tightly called game definitely favors us.  A loosely called game does not.  Pens fans are coming to that realization right now, and we don’t like it.  But as long as they’re letting everything go at both ends (which they are), there’s nothing you can do.  In other words, it’s not their fault they’re cheating.  It’s our fault for not cheating, too.

The next argument is that the superstars need to score more.  This hits upon one of my pet peeves: people who equate playing well and scoring.  Yes, scoring is an easy way to see if someone is playing well, but it’s an awful way to tell if someone is playing poorly.  Crosby had some excellent set-up passes this weekend.  Malkin got a goal and was one of the few guys who could stick handle through the Wings.  We’re getting shots on net.  Good shots.  We’ve clanked some off the iron.  Some have fallen right on Osgood.  The bottom line is that we’ve been playing good (not great, but good) in the offensive zone despite not lighting up the scoreboard.

Finally, Fluery seems to be getting dumped on a lot right now.  Which is a shame.  Osgood is playing great, and he’s playing good.  Nothing to be said for that.  Fleury had some awful bounces in game one, but the majority of his troubles are the result of his defense.  He’s constantly being screened (see first goal game 2).  He’s got a sea of red jerseys in front of him to put home rebounds.  He needs his defensemen to really clear some space for him.  I know that the Pens are deathly afraid of drawing an interference penalty and putting the potent Red Wing power play on the ice, but you’ve got to re-read the first argument in this post.  The refs have swallowed the whistles.  Go ahead and clear the front of the net.  If the refs call it, THEN you can scream bloody murder about the refs screwing you.  It really is a shame.  Fleury has played well enough to win.  That third goal last night was the only one that is truly soft.  He just needs some help from his friends.
So if it’s not the offense, and it’s not the goaltending, and it’s not the refs, what is keeping us from winning?  Answer: the game plan.  When you play Detroit, you know exactly what you’re going to get.  They play smart, efficient, (boring if more teams did it) hockey.  They are the masters of obstruction.  They feel what they can get away with and toe the line perfectly.  That only comes with experience.  If you stick-handle too much they just gang up on you, lift your stick, and go the other way.  That seems to happen to us a lot.  They put a screener in front of the net throughout the game.  He might even still stay back there while the rest of the Wings play defense.  Every man on the ice is watching rebounds off Ozgood and helping to clear them.  It’s smart.  It’s efficient.  They’ve been doing it for years.  Heck, they did it to us last year.  But we still act like we don’t know how to deal with it.  If they punish you for stick-handling too long, then don’t stick-handle.  Use you’re vision to find someone else in open space.  They double team a lot, so someone has to be open.  If they put guys in front of the net, then match them.  Make it a scrum in front and see who wins.  We might be surprised to find it could be us more than not.  More or less, we have to beat them at their own game.  It can be done.

I’ve been saying this all playoffs: the series doesn’t start until someone loses at home.  Time to protect our house.

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Pens 1 Red Wings 3

image from postgazette.com

image from postgazette.com

Game Recap

Ouch.  We played hard tonight.  We got some pressure on the Wings defense.  I can’t pick out much more that we can do better.  But we still lost.  Fleury was surprised by the lively boards at the Joe twice.  That can’t happen.  He’s played there once this year and three times last year.  He knows what to expect by now.  But that’s an easy fix.  Osgood responded to me saying he lets in some soft goals by making me eat my words.  He played terrific last night.  If he can do that consistently, we’re in trouble.  I just don’t think he can do that consistently.  That shot that landed on his back?  That’s as sure of a sign as any that he’s just having a good night.  We had a lot of missed opportunities last night.  The two penalties in the first period in a game where whistles were rare.  Malkin’s breakaway.  You can go on and on.  Those will start to go our way eventually.  Bottom line: stay the course.  Nobody said this was going to be easy, but if we keep playing like we did last night, good things will come our way.  Quick turnaround until game 2, but that’s ok.  I’m sure our guys are chomping at the bit to get another chance at them.  If we can steal one tonight, we’re still in great shape going back to the ‘Burgh.

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Pens 4 Canes 1

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Game Recap

Well, the Pens outplayed the Canes for the first three games, why not make it four, right?  Carolina came out with a much different game plan tonight.  They were wildly aggressive defensively, and it created some chances at the other end.  For us, that is.  It was a desperate tactic by a desperate team and it backfired.

Cam Ward and Eric Staal both finally showed up today.  It helped, but not enough.  Staal opened the scoring and played like a wild man all day.  It looked like he really wanted to make up for his lack of scoring in the first three games.  I have never seen someone play with that kind of intensity and effort before.  Even though he plays for the other guys, you’ve got to admire that.  Ward made some absolutely brilliant saves.  The Fedotenko goal was his defense not picking up a man.  The Talbot goal was a fluke that wouldn’t happen again in a million years.  And the Guerin goal was the Hurricanes playing desperate and risky and getting bit.  None of them were totally his fault, and you have to feel for him.  That’s 20 goals in 4 games for the Pens.  He has to be shouldering a lot of the blame right now.

So I guess its now ok to look across to the Western Conference to see the match-up in the finals.  And well, well, well, if it isn’t our old buddies the Red Wings.  Now, I’m going to assume Detroit finishes the Blackhawks off, but if they don’t I can’t see Chicago posing much of a problem.  They’re us from last year.  A good young nucleus with a solid goalie and little to no playoff experience.  They’ll be a formidable foe soon enough, but right now they’re getting their ears wet.  So Detroit it is.  They’re almost exactly the same squad that beat us last year.  They play the same style.  They have mostly the same roster (with one exception that will be pounded to no end).  We’re the ones that have changed.  We have a new coach, new system, new role players, new everything.  I’d like to think that the new way to play is better, but there’s no way to tell.  We’ve faced Detroit twice this year, but Bylsma wasn’t behind the bench for either.  I think we’ll have better luck for two reasons: one is the faster pace we now play at, and the other is the experience we gained last year.  There is a big step up in intensity from the regular season to the playoffs.  We learned that two years ago against Ottawa and haven’t made the same mistake again.  Last year we learned that there’s another step up in intensity in the Finals.  Detroit was ready and crushed us in the first two games.  We got our sea legs back and took 2 of the next 4 games, but the damage had already been done.  We know what to expect this time, and the chances of us getting shut out for games 1 and 2 again are slim and none.  I also think that our style matches up better against the Red Wings this year.  Detroit is a skilled team that plays a puck possession game and is tremendous in transition.  Sounds awfully familiar, right?  Last year we played into their hands.  We were patient and slow on offense and focused on defense.  What happened last year was that we didn’t get set up enough on offense to score, and before we could get the clamps on defensively, they had already run down the ice and scored.   This year we’re going to match their style of play almost exactly.  It’ll be a lot more fun to watch, and will open up a lot more chances for us.  I still don’t think Chris Osgood is as good as his reputation.  He lets in some softies.  We just didn’t get enough pucks on net last year to test him.  It should be a fun series.  Assuming it happens, that is.  For now, I’m going to put my feet up and hope the Western teams go 7 and beat the tar out of each other.

Oh, and by the way: the lucky jersey/hat combo has now worked for 11 straight games.  I’m getting frightened.

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