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Insider Only GAME 1 FALLOUT: Penguins – Senators Game Post-Game Observations & Buzz

nhl_g_crosts_576 GAME 1 FALLOUT: POST-GAME OBSERVATIONS
(1) Aside from the Penguins excellent night on the power play (2-4) and penalty kill (5-5), the most promising development for the Penguins in Game 1 was how they closed out the game in the third period holding a 3-1 lead. We didn’t see the Penguins have that one gaffe in their own end that plagued them in Round 1, hence giving up that momentum changing goal. Overall defensively, the Penguins were a little shaky at times in defending in around the net, especially in the first period, but the Penguins were smarter with the puck in getting out of their own end as the game progressed.
“I think we were all kind of trying to make sure we found a way to do a better job of getting out of our end and executing a little better,” Sidney Crosby said. “I think everyone was trying to make sure that they bore down a little bit more.”

(2) Sidney Crosby was held without a point in the game but the Dupuis – Crosby – Iginla line set the tone for the Penguins on the opening shift of the game and drew a penalty 1:12 into the game leading to Paul Martin’s power play goal at 2:41 of the period. “I loved the way our team came out and played that game,” head coach Dan Bylsma said.

(3) When the Penguins have been at their best in the post-season, most notably Games 1 and 5 of the first round series vs Islanders and now Game 1 of the current second round series vs Senators, it’s been when they’re rolling four lines and getting contributions from all four lines. No player played under 10:30 in the game and at even strength no player played under 8:29.
“I thought we did a really good job coming out, four lines in the first period, came out really aggressive, liked the way we played,” Bylsma said. “We’re not counting on just one guy to pull the load there.”

(4) From what I’m hearing from those close to the situation, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Marc Andre Fleury doesn’t make another post-season start, barring injury to Tomas Vokoun. While management has been involved in the decision making on the current goaltending situation, I’m told Bylsma has been given full authority and the final say on who he wants to start and there continues to be chatter that Bylsma views Vokoun as the guy over Fleury on who he feels can lead this team to a Stanley Cup championship.
There are even rumblings that Bylsma strongly considered starting Vokoun for the start of the Islanders series based on his play down the stretch.
“He played very good again tonight,” Bylsma said of Vokoun following Game 1. “They draw even in first on play from behind goal line, and after that point in time was a lot of strong play {from Tomas}, solid,  good in traffic, made a couple big saves.”
“Penalty kill, we did a job on that but they had some good scoring chances, and some flurry’s on him and I thought he was real strong as the game went on. One goal against is a pretty good game from Tomas.”

(5) Coming into Game 1, a lot of buzz was on the Senators punishing style of play in round 1 against the Canadiens. Tuesday night it was the Penguins who got the upper hand, holding a 40-26 edge in hits and a reason for the Penguins physical dominance was because of their ability to get pucks deep on the Senators defensemen.
“In the first period we were way more where we need to be in where we need to play and how we want to play in terms of playing in offensive zone,” Bylsma said. “Execution with the puck, got behind their defense, we’re able to get in on the offensive zone, able to get in with speed on the forecheck, and that’s a big part of our team, playing fast, playing quick.”
Wingers Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke each led the Penguins with 5 hits.

(6) The Senators are a team that relies on depth scoring and being hard in around the oppositions net. They had some success against Pittsburgh in crashing the net but couldn’t capitalize on many opportunities. If the Senators are to be a serious threat in this series they have to be the better team in that area and their head coach didn’t feel like they were in Game 1. “I thought they were a little bit quicker than us and a little harder than us,” coach Paul MacLean said. “They were harder at our net and they were harder than us at their net.”
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson felt the same way his coach did in that the Senators were not playing hard enough in around the net. “We have to be stronger in front of both nets,” Alfredsson said.

(7) From an offensive standpoint, two key players for the Senators in this series are going to be defensemen Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar. They have to be factors offensively and if Karlsson plays the entire series at the level he did in Game 1, this is going to be a four or five game series at the most in the Penguins favor.

(8) If there’s one positive the Senators can take out of Game 1 was their play 5-on-5 in the second period. The tempo suited how they need to play the Penguins as the game slowed down but late in the period Cory Conacher was hit with a holding penalty and Chris Kunitz would score on the power play for a crushing goal.

“I thought we did a pretty good job 5-on-5, but overall I don’t think we can be happy with the game,” Alfredsson said afterwards. “We have to be a lot to be faster in our decision making for us to be a faster team and we weren’t that.”

(9) The Penguins put up four goals on Craig Anderson but it’s clear that they are facing a much different goaltender in Anderson than they faced in Evgeni Nabokov last round. The ability is there from Anderson to steal a game or two this series.

(10) Jason Spezza won’t play in Game 2 but there continues to be chatter of him making his return by Game 3 or Game 4. Spezza has been out since January due to back surgery.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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