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Insider Only Post-Game 4 Observations; Halak is in the Penguins head

Post-Game 4 Observations and Analysis
  • The Montreal Canadiens continue to battle and are frustrating the Penguins as the series is now a best of three. The play of Jaroslav Halak has the Penguins over-thinking in the offensive zone. Halak in their head and the Penguins are still relying on their game 1 strategy of needing to be creative against Halak.
  • The same can’t be said for Marc Andre Fleury who continues to be plagued by inconsistent play. Fleury who gave up a terrible goal 2:34 into the game and appeared very vulnerable in the game. Until Fleury shows that he can consistently put together performances like game 3, the Canadiens can’t be written off from pulling off yet another upset.
  • Aside from Jaroslav Halak, one major reason that the series is tied at 2-2 is because of the subpar play from the Penguins Big Three; Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc Andre Fleury.
  • Alexander Ovechkin took a lot of heat in the Capitals first round series loss to the Canadiens as there is a thought that the Canadiens shut him down. However, Ovechkin had 10 points in seven games, while linemate Nicklas Backstrom added 9 points in seven games.
  • The Canadiens have shutdown Crosby and Malkin in the series, especially at even strength. Crosby has just 3 assists, while Malkin has 2 points through four games. The Penguins dynamic duo has combined for 5 points in the series.
  • The Penguins are built to win through their core. Crosby and Malkin are not delivering and the same goes for Marc Andre Fleury.
  • Jordan Staal capped off his remarkable comeback, returning to the lineup just 6 days after foot surgery. Staal played a 4th line role and had 13:24 of ice time and was a minus-1. “I didn’t think he missed a step,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “I think he looked pretty good.”
  • Staal didn’t hurt the Penguins by any means but to say he didn’t miss a step is a bit of a stretch. Stats are in a lot of occasions decieving but Staal and Tyler Kennedy are  now a team-worst minus-5 in the playoffs. Staal in fact is a combined minus-10 over the past two years in the playoffs.
  • There continues to be a sense of false hope in the organization that Ruslan Fedotenko is still the answer on the 2nd line. In game 3, Fedotenko had two shifts with Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby and in game 4 he was elevated to a regular role with Evgeni Malkin and Max Talbot.
  • The Result: 0 shots on goal in 14:12 of ice time. Fedotenko has o points and just 3 shots on goals in 6 playoff games, including a minus-3 rating. 
  • Is it time to officially label the Alexei Ponikarovsky acquisition as a dud? Ponikarovsky was demoted to the 4th line in a bold move by head coach Dan Bylsma Thursday night. Ponikarovsky had 9:38 of ice time and 0 shots on goal. Despite Ponikarovsky’s subpar play, demoting Ponikarovsky in place of Ruslan Fedotenko is still a head scratcher.
  • Although members of the Penguins organization still won’t call Ponikarovsky a disappointment off the record, things have not worked out like the Penguins clearly thought they would.
  • If Bill Guerin returns for game 5, which is likely, one option could be to give Ponikarovsky a shot on Crosby’s left wing and move Chris Kunitz down to Malkin’s line. The Penguins don’t want to breakup Crosby’s line but Ponikarovsky and Malkin have had absolutely no chemistry.

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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