Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Penguins ECQF Game 1 Recap - Penguins 5, Islanders 0

  -This game went about how you thought it was going to go. The Penguins got things started early with a Beau Bennett power play goal at the 3:30 mark and things just kept rolling for the Penguins. Pascal Dupuis made it 2-0 just under ten minutes later and the route was on. The Penguins scored three more times in the second period and the game was all but over. 

-This was a pretty physical game. I wasn't really sure how heated this would be as there really isn't much of a rivalry in this series but the Penguins came out and wanted to make sure that if the Islanders were going win they were going to have to pay a price for it. They didn't win and they still payed a price for it. Typically I think the hit stat is pretty overrated and the only time it can be really used in any capacity is in a series when you are seeing the same team night after night and the Penguins set the tone that it is going to be a long series. John Tavares took a lot of hits and seemed to be a little bit banged up. The Islanders have to find a way to keep Tavares from getting hit nearly every time he is touching the puck. 

-Marc-Andre Fleury took a ton of heat for the series last year and for the last couple of playoff series so it was important for him to come out and have a solid performance. Now I am not saying that all of the blame should go on MAF because that just isn't true but he didn't help the situation. Tonight he really wasn't challenged all that much but when he was he was a brick wall. I thought early that he looked a little nervous and shaky but as the game went on he got better and with a multiple goal lead it really wasn't all that much of a concern. 

-The defense did a quietly nice job tonight minus Brooks Orpik. While MAF was really good the guys in front of him were also good and really limited the Islanders offensive chances. They blocked a ton of shots and there wasn't too much traffic in front of MAF and you can give a stick tap to the defense for that. 

-The Penguins were just the better team. They came out with a lot of jump and it seemed like they knew they needed to get out front early and while they let their foot off the gas multiple times in the first game last season they just kept coming in waves tonight and really broke the will of the Islanders. That is exactly what you do to a team that you are better than. 

-On a negative note James Neal had to leave the game early in the second period with what looked to be a right leg injury. Not really sure how serious it is as the Penguins were up 3-0 at that point and they made it a five goal game shortly thereafter so there was really no reason to bring him back. While losing Neal might not be that big of a hit if the series continues the way it started but going on in the playoffs the Penguins are going to absolutely need Neal. Hopefully it is nothing major. 

-Jussi Jokinen was banged up on his right leg as he took a knee-to-knee hit from Marty Reasoner that wasn't something you like to see. It looked as if Reasoner went and moved into the knee-to-knee hit and I wouldn't be overly shocked if he got a suspension from it. 

-Before the game I talked about how the penalty kill was going to have to be good if the Penguins wanted to move on past this series and they did a really nice job tonight. The Penguins killed off all four Islanders power play attempts and on the other side they scored a pair of power play goals. Just a great job by the special teams. 

-Bennett scored a goal on his first career playoff shift. He went short side on Evgeni Nabokov and it just shows what Bennett can bring you. When Sidney Crosby and Neal come back Bennett will probably be a fourth liner if not a healthy scratch. What a problem to have, right?

-The Islanders played a really bad hockey game. It was part the Islanders being bad and part the Penguins being good but I would be pretty shocked if the Islanders came out and gave the same effort on Friday night. They will come out better and the Penguins need to be ready for that and do exactly what they did tonight.

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