Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Penguins Game 3 Recap - Maple Leafs 5, Penguins 2

For as good as the Penguins were on the road in the first two games of the season they were just as bad for their home opener against the Leafs and I could probably come here and spew a bunch of stuff about how certain things in the game looked good and you could take something away from it but that just isn't the case. The Penguins looked sluggish and never could get anything going and the Leafs forwards were able to create a lot of opportunities with their speedy forwards and while the Penguins fought back they just didn't have it tonight.

There were a bunch of stuff that didn't look good about the Penguins tonight and I don't really know even how to describe the game. They got on the board late in the first with a pretty soft goal on the power play by Evgeni Malkin and then after giving up a pair of goals Sidney Crosby tied the game with a semi breakaway goal in the second period but it wouldn't last.

I know some people are going to throw out the "they weren't trying" or a "they didn't care" card but I hate when that gets said about athletes, especially professional athletes. While they look like they might not be trying that really just isn't the case. These guys are out there playing for a paycheck and poor performances put you on the bench, just as Eric Tangradi. So while it might look like they weren't trying, they were, it just wasn't there for some reason tonight. It is really too bad because I really thought the Penguins might go 48-0-0 this season.

While the entire team didn't look particularly good the power play was just awful tonight. Sure, they scored a power play goal early but with Crosby, Malkin, James Neal and Kris Letang on the ice you would think that they would create unlimited chances. They didn't. Hell, when they are on the ice in 5-on-5 situations they create unlimited chances but on the power play they looked discombobulated and really didn't know where they wanted to go with the puck. The Leafs did a really nice job of pressuring the points and pressuring the puck handler and that seemed to really frustrate the Penguins and make them uncomfortable which in turn forced them to turn the puck over.

In turn, on a positive, the Penguins penalty kill was absolutely outstanding. They were faced with a 50 second 5-on-3 and they didn't give the Leafs any room and even when the Leafs has the run of the mill 5-on-4 power play they couldn't do anything. The Leafs ended up getting a power play goal on a full two minute 5-on-3 but they couldn't complete the full two minute job. The Leafs only went 1-of-8 on the power play and while the Penguins have given up a pair of power play goals this season they were both while two men down and

Malkin really wasn't good tonight and he really wasn't bad, he was just a little up and down all night. He was his usual self as he was flying around the zone but just didn't have it. His most careless mistake came when he took the puck in his own end and passed it to James van Riemsdyk with about five minutes left in the second where van Riemsdyk just buried it past Fleury. Literally looked like Malkin thought he was on the Leafs and he was trying to set up van Riemsdyk. It happens. Whatever. He's still one of the top players in the world and while games like this happen they happen fewer and far between for players like Malkin.

Tangradi was just brutal tonight. Again. After a turnover that led to a Leafs goal he didn't see the ice again and finished the game with only six shifts for 4:27. Yikes.

Fleury was good tonight at times and wasn't good tonight at times but I think he was much better than his stats will indicate. There was the brutal giveaway by Malkin and another time he was virtually taken out of the play by his own player. By no means was Fleury good but, like I feel like I have been talking about it for a billion times, he wasn't the worst on the ice. He was firmly in the middle with 99% of the Penguins related things that were just meh.

The Penguins penalty kill was great all night but that turns to another problem: they took way too many penalties. They gave the Leafs eight power play attempts and while the Leafs were awful on the power play you can't give another team eight power play chances and expect to win. While the Penguins are usually Crosby on the penalty kill there are guys who don't play on the PK, including Malkin. For nearly a full period worth of time the Penguins were on the PK so that is 16 minutes that Malkin wasn't on the ice. That decreases your chances of winning.

The Leafs actually played a really good hockey game. They came in and forced the Penguins hand. van Riemsdyk was outstanding with a pair of goals and an assist while goaltender James Reimer was great in net stopping 28-of-30 shots. Reimer robbed Malkin at one point and looked really poised for a Leafs team that might literally kill for a competent goaltender. The Penguins were bad but the Leafs were good too as they utilized their speedy forwards to create chances that finally found the back of the net in the second and third period after a scoreless first.

Overall it was a shitty game. Shitty games happen. It was the home opener and I am sure the Penguins were flying high after a hot start and this game slapped them in the face and let them know that they aren't just going to be able to roll. They only get a day to think about this before they are back on the ice on Friday when they travel to Winnipeg to play the Jets.

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