Big Lead Sports Bar

5/28/2008

Koz: STATE OF THE PENGUINS


It’s been several days since Marc-Andre Fleury fell flat on his face while running onto the ice before Game 1. I thought it was a bad omen, but even the most superstitious fan wouldn’t have predicted the ineptitude that followed. After months of dominating play, the Penguins have been an absolute embarrassment so far in the Stanley Cup Final.

Ironically, Fleury is the least of the Penguins problems, though he’s been quite ordinary. No amount of saves will do unless the offense scores a goal, but Fleury must play better if the Pens are going to put up a fight. Fleury has allowed more soft goals in two games than he has in months.

Michel Therrien complained about obstruction and diving that went uncalled by the referees after Game 2. It was embarrassing, not because Therrien was “whining” as rival fans might suggest, but because it was the only response he had available.

After Game 1, the “we didn’t play our game” spiel worked. After showing no better two days later Therrien was left with no other discourse. What did you expect him to say? “We don’t belong here? We aren’t as good as the Red Wings? I think it’s over?”

Any educated sports fan can understand Therrien is attempting some “gamesmanship.” By lobbying in the press, maybe a ref will think twice and be more likely to call something. It’s why baseball managers get histrionic and take first base with them into the dugout and why football coaches stuff still photos from the press box into umpires shirts. Even still, it was depressing to see the team so soundly beaten that the only response the coach had was to deflect the pressure toward the officials.

[Ed. note: PLEASE, PLEASE mic up Therrien]

Is Chris Osgood diving? Yes, as just about every goalie does when they get run into. Ryan Malone entered the crease when he was called for goaltender interference. It was undisciplined, reckless, and asking for trouble -- especially in light of the Holmstrom interference call in Game 1. The most demoralizing part of the whole play was that even after flopping, Osgood stopped Gonchar’s slapshot from the point.

Sykora’s bump into Osgood in the waning minutes was another immature move born of frustration more common of Pennsylvania’s other hockey team. Osgood definitely embellished again but that only added to an already pathetic scene.

Did Roberts cheap shot Johan Franzen? I don’t know, maybe. Ryan Whitney definitely did. It’s smart for the Pens to go at an opponent’s known physical weakness, but do it in the normal flow of play and let the cheap shots come from the eastern Pennsylvania hockey team, please.

Sidney Crosby thinks the scoring chances have been pretty equal. Really? Other than one of the Wings tripping on octopus goo (and “Regular Season Jordan Staal” making an appearance by missing the net), how many clear chances have the Pens generated? I can only think of one (the Dupuis partial breakaway). Conversely, the Wings have had several odd man chances per period.

Evgeni Malkin says he’s tired. Okay -- then bench him. Unfortunately, the 0-2 hole cannot allow for him to be scratched, but maybe Malkin should stew on the bench for 20 minutes. He could get some rest and maybe inject a little emotion into his play. It’s not like he’s doing much out there anyway (generating only one shot in 120 minutes). Besides, what’s one more period without offense when you’ve got a nice streak of six in a row going?

This isn’t the team we’ve watched all season. It certainly isn’t the team I drove from Indianapolis to watch in what I thought would be a memorable week. So far it’s just been something I wish I could forget. I feel bad for the folks that went to Detroit. We never even got a good estimation of how many were in attendance because, other than one “Ruuutuuuuu” in the first game, there was nothing to cheer about.

I haven’t lost all faith and neither should you. That’s what being a fan is all about. But that doesn’t change my embarrassment as a Pens fan right now. I’m not going to make excuses for a team that’s being flat-out whooped. I’ll be in attendance to do my part for Games 3 and 4 -- wearing white, cheering, and cow bell ringing. There will be 17,000+ just like me and another couple thousand outside. I just hope the twenty guys in the black sweaters show up too.

6 comments:

Koz said...

Post Gazette reports Sydor will replace Letang in the lineup for Game 3.

ManBearPig said...

Quit kicking the Pens while they're down. If you cried any harder you'd be sounding like LouisLippsismyGrandpappy.

P Niddy said...

yea, dogg. that was a little strong. i don't think many people are embarrassed to be pens fans right now. we had a great season, and i think it's going to last longer than two more games ...

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

Nor is all hope lost if they don't win it this year.

The series is not over, but if they lose tonight, it is for all intents and purposes.

That said, if the worst happens, the core of this team (87, 71, 29) are here for the long haul and will learn a great deal from this experience.

Ray Shero, in his short time on the job, has proven to be an excellent GM. There will be other pieces of the puzzle in the future and he will find them.

Again, all is not lost. This is a team that has won 16 straight games at home - 16 STRAIGHT! - and the time is right to turn the tables on these bozos from Michigan.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Hey someone's got a personal vendetta against me! Awesome.


Onto things that people actually care about, the Pens win at home tonight, I guarantee it. We're not as bad and Detroit's not as good as they've shown in the first two games.

The key is to SCORE THE FIRST GOAL!! Don't let them take a lead then sit back and trap for the next two periods.

okel dokel said...

The post may have been a little "negative" but it is hard to feel good about how the Pens have played.

Should we be concerned about Malkin, he has disappeared? I don't like this trend from him and if he is our future I want to see this penchant for being tired and whiny stop.

No predictions about tonight's game; they need to be faster and more physical.

One telling sign about this team; if they struggle to get it out of their own end early then it is going to be a long night