Sunday, April 27, 2014

Penguins ECQF Game 5 Recap - Penguins 3, Blue Jackets 1

Wait, that score can't be right. One trend that got busted last night at the CONSOL Energy Center was the team that grabbed a 3-1 lead had lost every game. Sure, the Penguins got that 3-1 lead with only like a minute left but it's nice to break that trend and get a good win. The other trend that continued to play was the team that scored first lost. Columbus got the first goal of the game with about eight minutes to go in the first period on the power play but the Penguins came on real strong.

This entire time I have been waiting for Sergei Bobrovsky to steal a game for Columbus. He has been extremely up and down in this series and while the Penguins have got to him he's still a pretty damn good goaltender that is talented enough to steal a game or two. Last night he played well enough to steal a game and the Penguins still won. Bobrovsky made 48 saves on 50 shots and did everything he could to give Columbus the series lead going into game six but the Penguins won. That is a great thing.

Nearly this entire game was either a one goal contest or tied. The Penguins third goal was an empty netter and for the final 14 minutes or so they held a one goal lead. The game was not nearly as close as the score would indicate. This was a dominating performance from the Penguins and they peppered Bobrovsky and did enough to win. Take a look at the even strength Fenwick chart from the game:


That is a pretty dominating performance.

The Penguins CF% at 5v5 situations was nearly 63% and in close situations it was over 64%. That is the Penguins controlling the puck. The Blue Jackets went long stretches without getting shots and when you can't get shots off you can't win hockey games. There was about a 10 minute span in the third period when the Jackets didn't have a shot on goal.

Tanner Glass was the only Penguins player in 5v5 situations with a CF% lower than 50% and they had 10 players that were over 60%.

As it has been talked about a lot the Penguins went with a line that had both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on it. It didn't start that way but a few minutes into the game Dan Bylsma went with it and stuck with it. Columbus has done a pretty good job of keeping both of those players in check and while they have both been good (despite others saying they suck) they haven't scored goals. Their lines have, but they personally don't have goals. Well it is a lot harder to stick one guy on Crosby when Malkin is also on the ice. Really good stuff and it was fun to watch.

With Malkin and Crosby playing together for nearly the entire game that left a lot of the bottom lines in flux. It worked out well. The third line was especially beastly and that was headlined by Lee Stempniak and Brandon Sutter. Both of those guys were better than 77% CF% which was tops on the Penguins. When you throw in Jussi Jokinen, who scored the game-winner, who played with those two at times you have the three best possession players for the Penguins. I talked about depth being a problem during the regular season but this third line has come to play all postseason and it is fun to watch.

Marc-Andre Fleury was good. He had a brutal game four and was getting called out left and right and all he did was come out and backstop a win. Granted, he didn't have to face many shots and the Blue Jackets seemed pretty disinterested in making him make a lot of saves, but who cares. When he needed to make stops he did and much like he has done in the past he was able to bounce back after a rough outing and throw a gem. The Penguins needed MAF to be good and he was. Enough said.

The Penguins came out and did what they said they were going to do, play with more compete. I mean I think they were doing that before but a lot of people were questioning it and you can't do that after last night. They now have to win one of the next two games. I don't want any part of a game seven so I think the Penguins should just win game six and save my heart the trouble.

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