Recap: Conference Semifinals #1: v. Ottawa Senators

Ottawa Senators v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game One

Not too much to say about last night’s game. Pens offense, especially their PP is just scary good right now, between their puck movement and their pure shooting skill this team reminds me so much of the teams from the late ‘90s, except with better defense and goaltending.

But with that said I do have two minor critiques of the Pens forwards, it was easy to look past these faults yesterday but they could become more obvious in time. The Pens still need to work on creating a better forecheck in the offensive zone, we saw some amazing shifts, but they were separated by long stretches of dump and chase, and it seems like Anderson knows how to move the puck quickly. Additionally, the forwards were a little flighty in their own end last night. Occasionally the forwards were aggressive on the backcheck, but the Senators were able to get a lot of bodies in front of the net over the course of the game. If Jason Spezza can get back in the lineup (which is anticipated by most) and he can play even 80% of his game, he could actually exploit the Pens and the big bubble they left between the goal line and the points. Can one forward turn the series around? Probably not, but he can at least show the young impressionable Sens a plan for the future.

One thing that struck me is that this game was simultaneously closer, and less close than the 4-1 final suggested. It was closer because of the Penguins lack of forecheck, it was closer because the Pens (read James Neal) took way too many undisciplined penalties, and anytime you’re allowing 36 shots to a road team that’s just too many. It was less close than the score would indicate because answer yourself this, when were you scared in this game? Not very often if you ask us. Sure the Senators managed a lot of shots on goal, but they weren’t good shots. They were shooting from all over the ice, from the points, from the sidewalls, from the goal line, they were just trying to throw things at the net, but from there they didn’t have enough skill or resolve to actually punch the puck into the net. I won’t complain about the Pens allowing low percentage shots, but it would be nice to see fewer attempts in general.

I think we can comfortably say there isn’t a goalie controversy in Pittsburgh now. After yesterday’s game Vokoun is 3-0 with a 1.28 GAA and a .962 S%, he’s been named a three star in each game he’s played, and he’s just a calming influence. Voki has an uncanny ability to know when to play a puck and when to freeze a puck, that’s how he’s managed to keep the team collected in front of him.

Great TOI distribution again. As these playoffs go on you’ll see the benefits to only playing Sid 17 minutes a night, and Geno even less. If you’re looking for a critique of the TOI, what’s the point in playing Deryk Engelland if he’s going to play less time than your fourth line winger Craig Adams? We don’t know, but if we saw all the fight that the Senators are capable of then I also don’t expect we’ll see Engo play a lot of games this series.

toi-consem1

Long break til Friday night before Game 2. Could that impact the momentum that the Pens have or that the Sens lack? Probably, Pens need to not let up.

peguin-o

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