Thursday, April 15, 2010

Don't Panic - Yet

I'm sure there are Penguins fans across the tri-state area who are ready to take the gas pipe after yesterday's 5-4 loss to Ottawa in Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Yes, Marc-Andre Fleury played one of those games that make you wonder how he ever managed to win a playoff series let alone a Stanley Cup.

Yes, the vaunted Staal/Kennedy/Cooke line was not good.

Yes, Kris Letang still can't hit the net with any of his shots.

Yes, Alex Ponikarovsky did his best Claude Rains impression.

All of these things are true, but it's still only one game. For those of you in need of a history lesson, the year the Pens won their first Cup, they lost the first game of every series. Am I saying that this team will do that? No, but I am saying that now is not the time to panic. The Pens can come back and still win this series. One game does not make a series.


Yet I have this sneaking suspicion that last night was not an anomaly. The Pens have not been playing consistent hockey for quite awhile, so what happened last night did not come as any surprise to me.

Sid and Geno still played good games, even with Anton Volchenkov breathing down Sid's neck at any and all opportunities. A quick aside... wouldn't Anton Volchenkov been a great name for a Bond villain back during the Cold War era?

Of course, the biggest shock of the night was not the Pens losing. It was Craig Adams of all people scoring a goal. Yes, the same Craig Adams who didn't score a goal during the entire regular season. That might have been part of the problem since the vaunted third line accounted for not much at all. I hope that Disco Dan yanks Ruslan Fedotenko out of the lineup and gets Mike Rupp in. The Pens need Rupp's grit, and I can't believe he was scratched for the first game. I'd also dress Jay McKee, but that's just me.

For those of you who thought that the Pens would just turn on that mythical switch once the playoffs started, I hope they're able to do it before they're heading to Ottawa down 0-2.

I honestly don't know what they need to do other than play a tighter game defensively and get more pucks on net. The first three minutes of yesterday's game was a sight to behold - early pressure on rookie goalie Brian Elliot and a great power play goal from Geno with lots of traffic in front of the net. After that? One more shot the rest of the period. Sorry, but that's gonna work. Say what you will about the Pens' defensive effort toward the end of the season, but at least they were still getting lots of shots. If they'd gotten their usual 30-35 shots last night, they might have been in the game and even won.

So, as I said... now is not the time to panic, but if the Pens lose tomorrow? Well, let's just say my finger will be inching toward the panic button.

Of course, while the Pens are playing the Sens, I'll be at the movies, seeing Kick-Ass. What? I'll follow the game on my phone. I'm not a fair weather fan, but I've been waiting to see this movie since it was first announced. Geekdom wins out... this time.

Let's Go Pens!


P.S. The Capitals just lost their opening round game to the Canadiens at home. I'm sure there's panic in the streets of our nation's capital already. See? It can happen to any team, even the team with by far the most points in the NHL with one of the league's best players. Of course, the Caps' goalie is still Jose Three-or-more, so I hope you Caps fans out there aren't planning your Stanley Cup victory parade.

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