Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Penguins ECQF Game 4 Recap - Blue Jackets 4, Penguins 3 (OT)

Woof. That was a tough game to watch at the end if you are a fan of the team that does not usually play hockey in the city that is in Columbus, Ohio. In a game that was much more of a do-or-die for the Blue Jackets than it was for the Penguins they certainly didn't come out and play like it but they sure did finish like it and that is all that really matters and seems to be the calling card for the team that does not score the first goal of the game in what is now every one of the four games of this tied series.

For the first 59 minutes of this game Marc-Andre Fleury was the best player on the ice for either team. He didn't allow a 5v5 goal and probably would have been the number one star of the game if the game didn't include the 60th minute. Sadly it did and sadly it is going to be what MAF is remembered for pretty much no matter what. This is what happened in that 60th minute:


The way I feel about this is that I don't have a problem with MAF coming out to play the puck. Coming out to play the puck and not just giving the puck on a dump-in to Columbus is kinda his job. I don't like the result of the play. I don't mind the process. A lot of people are going to chalk it up for MAF being a horrible puck handler. That is fine. His puck handling woes are wildly overrated but whatever.

He did give up a real soft goal to Nick Foligno as he crossed over the Penguins blue line as overtime started and that was the back breaker. It was a pretty brutal goal to give up. Those last two plays are going to get all the plays but for as good as the Penguins puck possession game was in the series up until this point it was equally as brutal today.

At 5v5 today the Penguins Corsi for percentage was 38.1% which means that they rarely had the puck and outside of the first 12 minutes of the game they were badly outplayed by the Blue Jackets. For the game the Penguins were outshot 46-25 and the Penguins did a nice job (sarcastically) by contributing 11 giveaways and losing the face-off battle 39-29. Actually if you take Sidney Crosby out of the equation the Penguins lost the face-off battle 30-13. The is horribly bad.

The Penguins only had one player that had a positive Corsi and that was Olli Maatta. Tanner Glass was second on the team and he was an even Corsi player. Think about that for a second, Tanner Glass was the second-best puck possession player for the Penguins tonight and he played a total of 10:47.

The Penguins best players weren't great and the secondary players were bad. The Blue Jackets took it to the Penguins today and they are probably lucky that they made it to overtime. Evgeni Malkin was held without a shot and despite the top line scoring out as the best puck possession line on the team they still weren't holding any water in terms of actually having the puck.

A lot of people are going to blame Fleury for the loss tonight, and while he had some wildly forgettable moments at the end of the game and in overtime he is far from the person to blame in this game. The Penguins got out to a 3-0 lead in the first half of the first period and all they did was sit back on it. Somehow (in a big part to MAF) the Penguins were holding a three goal lead. The defense actually played a pretty good hockey game down the stretch and while the team seemed to run around with their head cutoff for much of the game they held the Blue Jackets without a shot for nearly the final 14 minutes of the game.

Actually the only shot the Blue Jackets got on net in the final 13:38 was the shot that found the back of the net that was misplayed by Fleury. I think that just made it worse. Man...

The good thing is that the Penguins aren't down in the series, the series is tied. The Penguins are now in a three game series where two of those games are going to come at home. I don't know what that means but I guess we will start to find out on Saturday.

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