If Actions Speak Louder Than Words…Posted: 01/04/2012
Okay so the Pens dropped this game to the Flyers 6-4. They didn’t look great throughout most of the game despite having a huge shot advantage. There was no way that the Pens really seemed to cohesively dominate in any one zone. Despite all of that I think the Pens came away in a stronger position today than when they entered it.
Obviously the biggest part of the game occurred after Joe Vitale came up with the crushing open-ice (and clean) hit on Danny Briere in the last minute and a half of the game. From that point on the relationship between the two teams basically completely changed. Not only did Vitale’s hit send a message, but so did Craig Adams’ DDT on Marc Andre Bourdon. Asham on Zac Rinaldo. And let’s not make light of Tony Granato standing up for Coach Dan when Peter Laviolette totally lost his mind. I mean clearly the Pens had gotten under the skin of Laviolette, but what I really can’t understand is how? I mean yeah, Briere got lit up, but at least Vitale had the common courtesy to do so within the course of the game. Unlike all of the stupid cheap shots the Flyers pulled on the Pens during the breaks, culminating in Schenn’s cross-check square to the back of a completely unsuspecting Sidney Crosby. I mean let’s not mince words, that is exactly the kind of hit on Crosby that scares the shit out of you. Luckily he’s no worse for wear, but it’s blindside hits that put Crosby in the situation he’s been in all year, and when you see him get hit with no idea it’s coming, you have to hold your breath.
The Pens capitalizing on their power play following the scuffle sets a nice tone too. Not only did they prove that they couldn’t be physically bullied, but that they could respond on the scoreboard as well. If anything this game just gets me even more pumped for next Saturday, and for the pending playoff series that seems a foregone conclusion now.
All I can say is that I am fully convinced that the Pens are finally up for the type of game they need to play against the Flyers, I can’t wait to see what happens next.
I mean that’s not to say that the Penguins couldn’t have played better. The defense failed to solidify itself despite a return to normal pairings. I’m not even sure where the breakdowns really were, it seemed to plague pretty much every pairing. For the longest time the Pens kept the Flyers in check, and even after the first two goals, they found their form again. The third period was bad all around, but that’s not entirely on the defense.
The Flyer’s fourth goal was another uncomfortably soft goal let up by Fleury. To give credit to the defense, when Voracek got on his breakaway, Niskanen was able to close on him in impressive fashion, he completely shut down Voracek’s opportunity for the forehand. Fleury needed to recognize this. He needed to focus squarely on the backhand. He didn’t. Goal. The fifth goal was just bad all around. I mean it’s easy to say that Michalek was in the worst position imaginable, 6 inches more to the center he blocks it absolutely, 6 inches to the boards and Fleury stops it easy. But he wasn’t. Fleury still should have had a better view on it and been capable of getting a piece of it. I can’t wait for Fleury to post a shutout in his next game, but again, I’m a little scared about the last several games. I mean the Pens aren’t going anywhere without Fleury on his game, that’s it.