Penguins have been “too” content?
Head coach Dan Bylsma has refuted any notion that the Penguins have been “too” content heading into the playoffs, pointing to the Penguins recording 101 pts in the regular season.
The continuous talk for the past couple months of the Penguins “turning the switch on” once the playoffs start, didn’t happen Wednesday night and since Pittsburgh’s 9-1 start in October, the Penguins play has been nothing to get excited about.
Friday night will now tell the story if game 1 was a wakeup call for the Penguins. A focus for the Penguins is now turning towards creating more scoring chances 5-on-5.
The Penguins scored two even strength goals in game 1 but the Senators stifled the Penguins in 5-on-5 play and limited their chances.
Pittsburgh failed to get pucks behind the Senators defense and establish an effective fore-check. Prior to game 1, it was something a number of players talked about the Penguins needing to do if they wanted to be successful against the Senators group of top-4 defensemen.
It’s not a good sign that the players had to be reminded of that once again by Dan Bylsma in his post-game comments Wednesday night.
The Senators blocked 18 shots, led by defenseman Andy Sutton who led the Senators with 4 blocked shots.
Sutton who was acquired for a 2010-2nd round pick, was brought in by Senators management for the sole purpose of giving the Senators a 2nd shutdown pair to matchup against a team like Pittsburgh in the playoffs.
Sidney Crosby had a game-high 3 assists, including a beautiful backhand pass to set up Alex Goligoski for a late third period goal, but the Senators kept Crosby in check in 5-on-5 on play.
Crosby did not record a shot through the first two periods. At 5-on-5 he has to be better and work through his struggles against the Senators top pairing of Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips.
Malkin and Crosby combined for 6 points in the game but game 1 did not put to rest any concerns of how much help either player will get from their group of wingers in the series.
The lack of production from the likes of Alexei Ponikarovsky and others is a serious concern.
Do I think the Penguins can rebound Friday night? Absolutely. The Penguins are good enough top heavy to still be considered the favorites in the series, maybe even if they fall down 0-2 but the concerns of Fleury, lack of production from their wingers and their team defense lives on.
Senators turn momentum
The Ottawa Senators were able to change momentum in a number of situations but the most important momentum changer was right after Alex Goliogoski’s goal with 2:14 remaining in the third, when Mike Fishers line took 45-50 seconds off the clock, controlling the puck in the Penguins zone and killing off valuable time.
Senators head coach Cory Clouston called it the most important 40-50 seconds of the game.
Will Marc Andre Fleury rebound?
Since the 2008 playoffs, Marc Andre Fleury is 8-3, 2.10 GAA, .931 SV% following a loss. Fleury had back-to-back losses to Washington and Detroit last season. He’s shown in the past to rebound strongly after a loss but going into the 2008 and 2009 playoffs, Fleury was not playing at the poor level that he is right now.
A rebound game for Fleury last year in the first round was a 45 save performance against the Flyers in game 4, coming off a 6-3 loss to the Flyers in game 3.
My concern with Fleury is that his confidence looked rattled in Wednesday’s loss.