Thursday, June 6, 2013

Penguins ECF Game 3 Recap - Bruins 2, Penguins 1 (2 OT)

Overtime games are never easy. When you are watching them as a fan of teams that aren't playing you want the game to never end. You want it to go seven overtimes and hear about the teams eating fast food in between periods. However, when you are a fan of one of the teams in the game this is not the thing you want to see. There have been a ton of overtime games in these playoffs and the ones where other teams are playing are awesome. The ones that the Penguins play in are edge of your seat, nervously chew your nails until something happens. That was last night. The Bruins dominated the first period where the Penguins were lucky to be only down 1-0 and then the Penguins turned it on and carried play the rest of regulation. They could only beat the brick wall Tuukka Rask one time so overtime had to happen. In the first overtime the Penguins played well in the first half of it then Boston dominated. In the second overtime it was a little more even but on one play it all changed.


-Jaromir Jagr took the puck off Evgeni Malkin along the boards, got it to Brad Marchand who gave a beautiful pass to Patrice Bergeron to beat Tomas Vokoun. It was really an outstanding play and not one that you can really blame anyone for, but with about five minutes left in the second overtime it left you with an uneasy feeling in your stomach. The Penguins are now down 3-0 and are virtually out of the series. Just a brutal loss. That being said it was a really outstanding game. Like, probably the best hockey game I have watched so far this playoffs. While the Penguins were getting beat behind the shed the first two games they came out and gave it their all. Unfortunately their all wasn't good enough.

-This was great hockey to watch and when people say that you need a lot of scoring to have a great hockey game you need to make them watch this game and I would be willing to bet they change their tune.

-The star of the show was Rask. He stopped 53-of-54 shots that were thrown his way and while the Penguins sometimes were only getting one shot at a time sometimes those one shots were ten bell saves. He wasn't listed as the number one start of the game but he was the main reason the Bruins one. The Penguins threw a lot his away and he never broke. He has only given up two goals this entire series and right now he is the Bruins MVP.

-The Penguins weren't necessarily bad but they had some really down moments. One of the things I thought they really needed to was to not let the Bruins jump out to a fast lead, but they did. 1:42 into the game David Krejci beat Vokoun and the defensive pairing of Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen were just out to lunch and bad. After that the Penguins did a really nice job in the neutral zone and playing the kind of hockey they needed to play to win. They just didn't win.

-It must have been a pretty significant focus in practice to win more faceoffs because the Penguins won 51-of-89 of them (57%) which was in contrast to what they did in games prior. Winning faceoffs is often overlooked but a faceoff win led directly to the Penguins only goal which was scored from Chris Kunitz on a great pass from Paul Martin. It is good to see that they took their whipping in the dot seriously and knew they had to get better. Too bad it all came up short.

-Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin, and Beau Bennett were nothing short of outstanding last night. I know a lot of people are going to bag on Malkin for taking the delay of game penalty in overtime but he was all over the ice and even in the second overtime it looked like he had fresh legs and he had that "want." Martin has proved himself to be one the of top defenseman in the league with his play this year and it was on display last night and Bennett, while not getting much playing time in the playoffs, needs to be on the ice. He has tremendous instincts and hockey IQ that if he gets benched again it would be a travesty.

-Vokoun was also really good. He didn't face the volume of shots that Rask did but after giving up the early goal he shut down the Bruins. He made several massive saves throughout the game and in a 1-1 game late you know that the next puck going into the net is the game winner and he stepped up in a big way. You can't blame him (or anyone really) for that final goal because it was just an outstanding play from everyone involved on the Bruins side and it just sucks that Vokoun wasn't rewarded for his effort. He was outplayed by Rask but it was still a great game from him, despite him making saves/plays in an unorthodox way.

-The penalty kill was really, really good. Sure, the Bruins power play was about as good as the Rangers but the Penguins did a great job not giving them any room to enter the zone and shut them down on each of their five attempts.

-The power play was bad. I don't really think it was as bad as people were talking last night but when you get six chances in the game, two in overtime, you have to cash in. Especially with the talent that the Penguins employ there is no reason that they can't find the back of the net one time. At some points they looked like they were going to break through but that one extra pass would get tipped away and it took away a lot of momentum. Just frustrating to see all of that skill on the ice and basically doing nothing with it.

-I know there are a lot of people who don't want to give the Bruins any of the credit but the Penguins played a pretty good hockey game and the Bruins were better. The real problem here isn't that the Penguins lost game three in overtime, it's that they completely mailed it in during games one and two. Getting behind 2-0 in the series and then trying to turn it on isn't going to work every single time and now they are looking at a deficit that most teams don't come back from. If the Penguins would have played like they did in game three in games one and two they would not be down three games. The reality is that they are, and it sucks. I am usually pretty optimistic about things (despite what some might say) but this series is probably over. I don't know where the Penguins go from here if that is the case but it is a tough pill to swallow.

-That said that doesn't mean the Penguins can't win the series or make it interesting. While they are in a must win situation from here on out all they need to do is win on Friday. They have to treat these games separately as they can't even the series with one win. If they come out and play like they did last night they will have a good chance to win, but they need to come out and play good hockey. I don't want this season to end and I know they don't either.

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