Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Penguins ECSF Game 1 Recap - Penguins 4, Senators 1
-The Penguins didn't necessarily bring their best overall game tonight but the one thing they did was that when the Senators made a mistake they made them pay for it. In the playoffs it doesn't matter what it looks like as long as you get a win and move on to the next game. The Penguins were outplayed for much of the game 5-on-5 but while they were outshot 36-30 they blocked a ton of shots and generally kept the paint clean for Tomas Vokoun and it wasn't pretty but it counts.
-Vokoun didn't look good early and he gave up a real softie to allow the Senators to tie the game but as things progressed through the night he settled in. He did make things seem a little more interesting than they probably should have been and his rebound control wasn't very good but he did what he does best and stayed calm. Even when things didn't look like they were going his way he gives this calm feeling about what is going on even when things seem chaotic. Good on him.
-In the preview I talked about how important that special teams were going to be. I said that if the game was going to be pretty even 5-on-5 then the special teams were going to decide the series. After one game it seems as if the Penguins have the dominant special teams despite how good Ottawa was during the regular season. Ottawa finished out the season with the top PK unit but the Penguins were able to rack up a pair of power play goals tonight including the opening goal of the game only 2:41 in. It wasn't only the power play but it was the Penguins penalty kill that was pretty good too as they killed all six Ottawa power plays and even scored a shorthanded goal thanks to Pascal Dupuis. That'll do Penguins, that'll too.
-The Penguins high end talent was just too good. Evgeni Malkin was probably the best player on the ice tonight and he was especially dominating in the first period when he figured in on both goals. He was all over the ice and on the goal he scored he completely muscled his way in front of Senators defenseman Jared Cowen and took a beautiful feed from Chris Kunitz for the goal. Sidney Crosby didn't record a point on the night but he was all over the ice. The beautiful thing about this game is that Crosby played 17:04 and Malkin played 15:56 and the Penguins won by four goals. Oh man.
-James Neal didn't have the best night. Took three penalties and while two of the penalties were pretty weak calls this is something that the Penguins can't afford to do. The PK did a really nice job of shutting down the Ottawa power play but you can't give the other team six power plays and expect to win on a nightly basis.
-The Deryk Engelland/Douglas Murray pairing was not very good tonight. Engelland wasn't overly good tonight and it would be interesting to see if he is in the game on Friday and not Simon Despres. Personally I would go with Despres.
-The Penguins were fairly physical in the game as they outhit the Senators 40-26. -You could tell that this was going to be a little bit different series as Ottawa isn't nearly as quick and fast as the Islanders were and while they aren't a slow team they are much easier to manage for the Penguins than the Islanders were. Ottawa's defense, outside of probably Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar, aren't very good skaters and the Penguins took advantage of that. The Pirates were able to get deep on the Ottawa zone and keep the puck away from their defenseman and it helped them create some good scoring opportunities and it paid off for them in the end.
-Ottawa came out flat and it cost them. I was pretty happy with the energy level with the Penguins and while they didn't play a great hockey game they capitalized on the mistakes. That is what you have to do and when you are as talented as the Penguins are you are going to force the other team into some mistake and when you do you make them pay. They did tonight and it resulted in a win.