Blog Entry

Penguins pass Washington's stress test

Posted on: May 8, 2009 11:12 pm

Maybe these Pittsburgh Penguins just have to make things tougher on themselves. Maybe that's what brings out the best in this team. Maybe that's what will carry them past the Washington Capitals and get them back to a second consecutive Stanley Cup Finals.

Then again maybe not, but in the meantime, the Penguins have found a way to use adversity to their advantage, and in the process have turned what began as a one-sided matchup with the Capitals into a best of three that could go either way.

Remember, Pittsburgh is a team that looked like a pretty good bet to miss the playoffs until it changed coaches in February and that came home this week with a lot more questions than answers after dropping the first two games of this Eastern Conference semifinal in Washington. And then made matters worse by spotting the Capitals very early energy draining leads on bad goals in both games in its own building.

Pittsburgh recovered in Game 3 largely because of a monster effort by Evgeni Malkin, but the momentum it should have gained seemed to dissipate quickly tonight when Nicklas Backstrom scored on Washington's first shot of the game less than a minute in. Only it really didn't.

The Penguins roared back to win 5-3 with a gritty effort that was triggered by its less heralded players, particularly along a blue line that suffered a big loss when Sergei Gonchar went down late in the first period, and now have the chance to turn the tide in this series because the teams will paly again Saturday in Washington.

Especially since Pittsburgh make Capitals rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov, who will play in back to back games for the first time in his NHL career, look more vulnerable than he has at any time during these playoffs. Varlamov may have been suffering from sympathy pains for Jonas Hiller, the Anaheim goalie who has been the other individual breakout story of these playoffs and was lit up by Detroit less than 24 hours earlier, because four of the goals he allowed were charitably described as soft by his coach.

"He's human," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He struggled."

So did Alex Ovechkin, who managed only two shots and was a non factor for much of the game. But the Caps superstar wasn't the only Washington player what had a night to forget. Washington's power play was blanked on four tries, the Capitals repeated turned the puck over and allowed several odd man rushes when its defensemen were caught pinching. And they managed only 22 shots at Marc Andre Fleury, who wasn't particularly steady in his own right.

But Fleury got plenty of support from his teammates, who forechecked like demons and prevented Washington from getting the breakouts it needs to generate an effective attack. When the Capitals did manage to penetrate, the Penguins kept them to the outside or sacrificed the bodies by blocking shots, and never really let them threaten in any significant way.

Which means they aced the test.

Category: NHL

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: May 9, 2009 1:08 pm

Penguins pass Washington's stress test

I agree they did pass a very tough test last night, but really you are a writer?  How about using grammar chack or something Wes?  This article gives me the impression that you mailed it in.  Do you think you can add something insightful and interesting instead of all of the stuff we already know?  What do you get paid to put out articles like this??

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: May 9, 2009 7:51 am

Penguins pass Washington's stress test

pyshie wrote: "Now, after 4 games, these Pens who are full of players who know how to score, have realized you beat Dr. Nyet high."

"Dr. Nyet."  That's fantastic!

I hope it's as simple as that.  It almost LOOKED as simple as that, but I don't want to get too comfy.

Amazing series, this one...  The sad thing is that you kind of wonder how much either team will have in the tank after these epic games.  The speed is outrageous, and it seems like the effort in things like digging the puck out in the corner is just tremendous.

Since: Dec 8, 2006
Posted on: May 9, 2009 6:33 am

Penguins pass Washington's stress test

Booyeah1 ..... you are absolutely right.  Although the Pens lost on the scoreboard, they pretty much outplayed the caps for the better part of both games in Washington.  The Pens simply ran into a hot, young netminder who looks to have the tools to be the next great one.  He made a great save that only gets made once in every 1000 tries in game one.  The Pens had very little tape on the guy.  They had never seen him in person.  Now, after 4 games, these Pens who are full of players who know how to score, have realized you beat Dr. Nyet high.  Especially high to the short side.

Back on topic....the author did NOT watch the first two games.  He could not have done so and reported objectively unless he is oblivious.

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: May 9, 2009 1:26 am

Penguins pass Washington's stress test

Accurate article except for this quote:

and in the process have turned what began as a one-sided matchup with the Capitals into a best of three that could go either way.
I don't recall this beginning as a one-sided match-up.  The capitals got outplayed in games 1 and 2 but their goaltender stole each of those games.  This author obv. did not see games 1 and 2... so there's not need to comment on them. 

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