Saturday, June 6, 2009

Post Game 5


(Keeping this short so it stays relatively impartial and not become just an angry rant.)

So much for momentum.

The prevailing theme from this series from the Penguins' perspective - apart from the lack of quality officiating, which continues - is Pittsburgh simply not seizing the moments when they come.

I thought Pittsburgh played a great first 6 1/2 minutes but were unable to cash in on two great scoring chances produced by the Evgeni Malkin line. Those players did earn a power play, but that's when the momentum changed.

The Penguins failed not just to generate prime opportunities with the man-advantage but barely even possessed the puck in the Detroit end.

Similar things happened in the first two games, which were both winnable. The Penguins have had plenty of chances to score against the Red Wings.

For the most part, however, they haven't been able to convert, and that's what will be their undoing.

Not to mention failing to beat Detroit in either of the first two games when the Red Wings didn't have Pavel Datsyuk. One win in either of those games and we're looking at a different series. If you can't beat the Red Wings when they're not at full strength, how can you expect to beat them?

The failed power play allowed Detroit a chance to regroup, which it did. A long-range, seemingly stoppable shot by Daniel Cleary eluded Marc-Andre Fleury and some of us had the sense that, "Well, that's it."

Then Chris Kunitz gets called for goalie interference - although it seemed Henrik Zetterberg made just as much, if not more, contact on Chris Osgood - and Detroit generated enough of a territorial edge that eventually Osgood was able to catch the Penguins in a line change for the all-important second goal.

From there, some questionable but also undisciplined penalties put the Penguins into a hole they had little chance of digging out of, and the Red Wings - unlike the Penguins - made the most of the chances given to them. Then it was just a matter of killing time until Game 6.

Datsyuk's return helped Detroit, of course, but I have a feeling his effect will be overblown a tad.

After the Red Wings went up 2-0, Pittsburgh barely mustered any attack, and the game closely resembled the first two games from last year's series, when Detroit out-classed and out-worked Pittsburgh.

So the series returns to Pittsburgh. The Penguins played Games 3 and 4 as if they were elimination games, and opened up Game 5 like that as well, until their own power play led to ruin. Now they face an actual elimination game and one would think the 5-0 embarrassment, plus the sting of watching Detroit celebrate on their ice last year, would lead to the Pittsburgh players coming out more focused, harder working, and more disciplined.

We'll see what haapens.

(If you want to know what I'm really thinking, you'll have to e-mail me.)

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