Blog Entry

Depth is the difference for Pittsburgh

Posted on: May 10, 2009 12:08 am
Edited on: May 10, 2009 12:31 am

As much as superstars Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and lately Evgeni Malkin have lived up to expectations in this spellbinding series, the Pittsburgh Penguins are going home with a chance to close out the Washington Capitals because they have more people stepping up.

So on a night when Crosby was dominant and Malkin scored in overtime to trump two goals and an assist by Washington's Alex Ovechkin, the real margin of Pittsburgh's 4-3 victory in this pivotal Game 5 was provided by names not often found on any marquees.

That was part of the formula the Penguins used to win twice at home when lesser lights like Kris Letang, Maxime Talbot and Miroslav Satan made key offensive contributions, and again tonight when a couple of third liners and a veteran who many believe is long past his best days came up big.

Ruslan Fedotenko, who was a hero for the Tampa Bay Lightning during their 2004 Stanley Cup run but had a mediocre regular season for the Penguins, scored for the third consecutive game, while grinders Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke each picked up their first goals of the playoffs as the Penguins pushed the Capitals to the brink of elimination. Washington meanwhile has sent out a search party for Alexander Semin and Viktor Kozlov among others and has become almost entirely dependent offensively on Ovechkin and to a slightly lesser extent on Nicklas Backstrom.

That just isn't going to cut it against the Penguins even if they are missing their best defenseman. Sergei Gonchar went down late in the first period of Game 4, which should have been a debilitating loss, but Pittsburgh was able to insert rookie Alex Goligoski and veteran Philippe Boucher tonight to help regulars Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi, Hal Gill and Mark Eaton make up his ice time. But when the Capitals lost John Erskine early in overtime, they had to put 39 year old forward Sergei Fedorov back on the blue line and he ended up losing Malkin on the winning goal.

Even so it took a bad break in the form of a deflection off Caps defenseman Tom Poti for the shot to get past Washington goalie Simeon Varlamov, which was an unfortunate way to end a very close game that had enough swings to belong in a playground, not to mention a remarkable pace considering the teams were playing for the second night in a row.

Washington fed off the energy from its home crowd to start fast, firing the first eight shots of the game at Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, but Pittsburgh rebounded and rattled off the next eight shots against Varlamov. It went back and forth that way the rest of the night with each team gaining and failing to hold leads and having chances to win in overtime before Malkin finished off the game and maybe the Capitals.

"We'll regroup," said Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau. "It's a tough hill to climb, but we've done it before."

The question is whether they have what it takes to do it again.


Category: NHL

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: May 12, 2009 11:04 am

Depth is the difference for Pittsburgh

Hey Creek, how's your right?  I'll post on Thursday morning as well.

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: May 12, 2009 11:03 am

Depth is the difference for Pittsburgh

How are those forks doing?

Since: Apr 21, 2008
Posted on: May 11, 2009 5:38 pm

Depth is the difference for Pittsburgh

You guys are such homies. Look at the stats, don't make them up.

Peguins scoring for 2009 playoffs.
number of players scoring 12
goals by top scorer 9
goals by top two 14
goals by top 5 25
total goals 35

Capitals scoring for 2009 playoffs
number of players scoring 13
goals by top scorer 10
goals by top 2 15
goals by top 5 22
total goals 34

I don't see much difference in the caps reliance on the big O and S as the Pens reliance of C and M. But I am sure things look quite different from behind gold colored glasses. I think it is hilarious how Pens fans were making all kinds of noise before the playoffs about Ovechkins shooting percentage but now that the Pengiuns are outshooting the caps no mention at all.  I will give the city of Pittsburg props for standing by their teams. One anoying thing about living in Washington is people move here from all over so there are fans from many different teams.

It has been one heck of a series. I have thouroughly enjoyed. I am sure I will enjoy the next two games as well. I hope you guys like soccer Because the Pirates aren't much to look at.
Not that the Nationals are any better ;-)

Since: Jan 23, 2007
Posted on: May 10, 2009 5:26 pm

Depth is the difference for Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is NOT the luckiest one. You make your own luck. The Penguins put themselves in scoring positions and fire at the net. If it happens to bounce off a Defenseman or off the Goalie's glove, so be it. When Alexander Ovechkin fires a shot from 40 to 50 feet away and it gets by Fleury, is it luck? Yes. Think about his shot being just one inch higher or lower and he may miss the net or Fleury may stop it. But Ovechkin put himself in a position to make luck work for him, and that is what counts. I could point at 50 different shots, bounces and deflections for both teams that, if went in the other teams favor, may have changed outcomes of goals. 
The better team, not the luckier team, will win this series. Right now, it looks like the Penguins. But Washington still has a good chance of "changing" their luck, and winning the next two games.   

Since: May 10, 2009
Posted on: May 10, 2009 5:10 pm

Depth is the difference for Pittsburgh

I think the Pens were lucky at the end of game 5 and for the most part it was an evenly matched game.  I do think that if the puck had not been tipped in, Crosby would have been in poistion to score the goal anyways.  Who knows what would have happened but those are the breaks.  I do think that the Pens had outplayed the Caps 3 of the first 4 games and the Caps were very fortunate to leave Washington up 2-0.  The Pens right now just look very focused and determined and I think they'll end it on Monday. 

Since: Sep 8, 2006
Posted on: May 10, 2009 4:11 pm

Depth is the difference for Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is the luckiest (sic) team? By the way, they would be the luckier of the two teams, and no, I don't think they are. Have we been watching the same series? The Penguins have outshot the Capitals in every game and have carried the play for the majority of time. Granted, the Caps have the most dynamic player in hockey in Ovechkin, but the Penguins can go considerably deeper in Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Fedotenko, Talbot, etc. All have scored for the Pens.

The Pens have faced a very talented but raw rookie who has kept Washington in this series. That's bad luck for the Penguins. Solution? Outplay your opponents and put more pucks on net.

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: May 10, 2009 3:58 pm

Depth is the difference for Pittsburgh

Creek, I keep collecting bonehead comments so that I can come back to them at the enf of the series. 

Just be thankful that Pens have a better attitude towards the upcoming games then their shithead fans.

Since: Feb 22, 2008
Posted on: May 10, 2009 3:14 pm

Depth is the difference for Pittsburgh

I didn't see the game, but when I saw the photo in the story I thought Crosby had scored.  I was surprised that someone else had scored when Crosby was standing there on the post with about 3 feet of open goal on his hip.  That game was ending one way or the other right there.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: May 10, 2009 2:35 pm

Depth is the difference for Pittsburgh

Gotta give Pensfan1983 props here, noting that Malkin was passing to an open Crosby streaking towards the slot. I think the pass completed, the game was over, anyway. However, I'm not going to look a gifthorse in the mouth.

Secondly, one thing I noticed last night was the amount of odd-man breaks in favor of Pittsburgh (2-1's, slight breakaways [by slight I mean defenseman is on the player's hip], and 3-2's). I think a lot of the reason was that Washington was trying to pinch in their defensemen more in the offensive zone to free up more chances for Ovechkin and Backstrom. Problem is that you cannot allow that to happen very often. This was why Detroit was so dominant in the late 90's and early 2000's perfecting the Left-Wing-Lock defense under Scotty Bowman. Best part of that defense is when your opponent breaks out, the worst case scenario (if you're running it effectively) is a 3 on 3.

One thing I have to give the Caps credit on is their cycling of the puck. When they had it in the offensive zone, they knew where to move it and find the open man. Crisp passing created their opprotunities, but better defense shut the door, and that's what Washington needs. Remember, offense wins games, defense wins championships.

Thanks, and good night.

Since: Sep 17, 2008
Posted on: May 10, 2009 1:02 pm

Depth is the difference for Pittsburgh

"And as just as unfortunate for most pure hockey fans, this overtime game ended as the last one, not because of the inate and refined talents of an individual or individuals, but by a bizarre twist of fate."

True. The bizzare twist being Poti having to scramble back to help Federov defend a two on one break when the Caps were killing a penalty! I understand that the opening minutes of OT are crucial and everyone goes full throttle, but don't discredit the Pens talent for making plays. Lack of discipline, again, is the bugaboo the Capitals can't seem to shake free from.
You're killing a penalty, you get a push into the offensive zone. Take your shot, but be ready for what happens if that shot doesn't go in.
Federov could barely match the speed of Malkin, what makes Poti think he can cover any ground on a quick transition?
Great job of Kunitz getting that puck up ice so quickly, and of Malkin and Crosby taking what they were given.

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