Pens fall to Sens 5-4… trail series 1-0…

“We didn’t play well, we didn’t manage the puck and we didn’t do what the Penguins do to win games,” said a disheartened Kris Letang following tonight’s 5-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

The defending Stanley Cup Champions kicked off the 2010 Playoffs where they left off last year — shot from a cannon. They came out flying, took advantage of the fact that they were facing a rookie goaltender and found themselves up 1-0 at the 3:03 mark of period one. Unfortunately, that is where the similarities to last year ended and the Penguins quickly found themselves duplicating many of the mistakes that have become far to common in their game as of late.

“We didn’t play well, we didn’t manage the puck and we didn’t do what the Penguins do to win games,” said a disheartened Kris Letang following tonight’s 5-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators. “The bottom line is that our game was just not right, we were not 100% focused on it and we did a lot of mistakes in the neutral zone and the offensive zone — bad managing the puck and it cost us.”

Sometimes when there is an obvious lack of focus or mistakes are being made, a player can look to his teammates to lift he and the team out of it. That wasn’t the case this evening as most facets of the Penguins system performed below their usual level. Marc Andre Fleury was serving up big rebounds, his defensemen and back checking forwards couldn’t bail him out and the pucks ended up in the net. One even took a horrible bounce off of the back dasher that was reminiscent of goals of playoffs past in Detroit over the past two years.

Senators defenseman Chris Campoli dumped a puck into the Penguins zone during a power play and Fleury went out to play it, had it deflect away from him and Chris Kelly banged it into a nearly empty cage 3-1.

The Penguins did have chances to claw back into the game, but it seemed that each time they would cut the Ottawa lead, they would give it right back. The best example of that was during the second period when Evgeni Malkin scored his second goal of the night to pull the Birds within one. Rather than capitalizing on the momentum generated, Chris Kunitz took an unnecessary charging penalty and Erik Karlsson pushed the Senators back ahead by two.

Sidney Crosby managed to pick up three assists, but was held without a shot through two periods by Anton Volchenkov, Chris Phillips and Chris Kelly. That match-up will be key moving forward and will likely play a big hand in who wins this series.

It is worth noting that even with all of the mistakes that they made the Penguins were right in the game as time expired. If they can clean up their game a bit and remain focused on attacking and good defense they will probably have enough to get by the Senators. If not? This could be a short series…

More later…


9 Comments on this Post

  1. @evilpens – chat got cut off before I could reply. To answer your questions, no I didn’t think many players had great games. But I choose to look for positives instead of pointing out shortcomings constantly. At the end of the day, its a game played by a bunch of kids and I honestly believe life is way too short to be negative. If I let it get to me, I would have been standing on the edge of a skyscraper during the Rico Fata/Dan Focht years 😉 Was I disappointed in the game? Yes. Is this over yet? Far from it.

    At the end of the day, one thing we can agree on is the team we support. We just have differing approaches to it and there’s really nothing wrong with that. Here’s to MAF bouncing back with a strong performance next game and a series win to eventually follow.

    Let’s Go Pens!!

  2. The Pens just looked lost out there all night. It’s a shame to see them turn it on and dominate for a shift or two then just go back to sleep and let themselves get beat. Hopefully that game serves as a wake up call for some guys who need to get it going.

    I’ve been seeing a lot of Fleury hate going around after that game and I think it’s getting a little out of control. I agree he was bad and the Pens certainly won’t win many games unless he’s able to play a better game than that but people are acting like this was the worst goaltending performance in history. He was off his game but all the bounces went the wrong way too.

    On the first Sens goal, yeah you don’t want to kick a rebound out up the middle but he put enough on it that it would’ve kicked out past Regin except it hit Gonchar just enough to settle down for the shot. Bad place to put the rebound, but if it doesn’t hit Gonch or he ties up his man at all it’s not a goal.

    On the 2nd Ottawa goal you’d expect Fleury to make that save but I’m not faulting him for the rebound that lead up to that shot. I don’t know of a single goalie who can take a puck up high like that and direct their rebound. The way people are talking about it, you’d think that was a routine play for a pee wee player. Again, he should’ve had the 2nd shot but I have no problem with the initial rebound.

    Anyone blaming Fleury for the 3rd goal is just hating on him. Although when he’s on his game maybe he gets back and makes that diving save.

    On the Karlsson goal Fleury got caught overcomitting to the first shot and had trouble tracking the puck through the screen. I’ve read quite a few strongly worded comments about how bad the rebound was. If you watch the replay, the puck went off someone’s shinpads in front of the net and straight over to Karlsson. It never touched Fleury. That may have something to do with why he didn’t react and didn’t know where the puck went until it was too late.

    The Ruutu goal was bad. No sugar coating that one. The quality of the shot, the player taking it, and the timing were all just horrible. We’ve seen Fleury make that save over and over. That one can’t get through in a big game like this.

    I’m not trying to absolve Fleury of any wrong doing here. He was bad. I don’t argue that point. I just don’t think he was bad to the point of single handedly destroying our playoff hopes. He was actually the better of the two goalies in that game. Elliot was beaten cleanly time and again by shots that, for the most part, he should have stopped. The Pens offense didn’t come close to generating enough to come out of that game with 4 goals. It was a bad game all around and if anyone wants to put Fleury at the top of the list of offenders then that’s fine but don’t kid yourself that he was head and shoulders above the rest in deserving blame.

    Sorry for the long post…I’m just frustrated with all the BS from the bridge jumpers who apparently weren’t watching the same game as me.

  3. Evilpens

    No Problem Heath, But my point is this, This is the way this team has been playing for 60 Games ! This isn’t a Blip on the radar, The Blew 2 3 goals leads against the Islanders in the Last game, Was the Playoffs going to make Gonchar not suck? NO Was the Playoffs going to make MAF quit giving up Excruciatingly Soft Goals? No was it going to make Guerin quit being a Cadaver? NO ! Make Bylsma a good Coach ? NO !

  4. The positive takeaway is this: Despite Crosby being essentially shut down offensively; the off-the-dasher goal reminiscient of a game in Detroit; our defensive breakdowns, and our lack of puck management…with all this in mind, the game was only decided by one goal. The remaining minute of the game was filled with drama and excitement, but we fell short. It wasn’t so much the Senators won as much as the Penguins lost. No doubt we’ll make the proper adjustments tomorrow.

  5. I’m certainly remaining optimistic about this series because I expect most of the Pens to play better than they did in that game. Fleury has a history of following up a bad game with an excellent one and plenty of guys played below thier normal level last night. Only losing by a goal after a terrible performance like that gives you plenty of reason for hope but can we count on Elliot to be that bad again? I fully expect a bounceback performance by Fleury and the Pens offense in game 2. I just hope Elliot doesn’t raise his level of play to match.

    I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike Rupp get into the lineup tomorrow. I was shocked that the whole building was so dead at points in that game (on the ice and in the stands) and nobody stepped up to drop the gloves and get something going. Maybe the Sens just weren’t biting on it but I didn’t notice anyone trying too hard to start anything. That game was screaming out for someone to spark some emotion and get everyone fired up and it just never happened.

  6. Evilpens

    Good Lord Someone Give Morphine Dan a new catch phrase PLEASE !!!!!!!!!!!

    “I think that we have to be well aware of what happened tonight,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “They were the team that was able to say that they got to their game and played their game. They played very well, and we weren’t able to do that. We’re down 1-0 in the race of four. They got the first one, but we have to be ready to execute better, have a different mentality and get to our game a little bit differently than we did tonight.”

  7. Gunner Staal

    This game is on MAF. I actually dont think the Pens skaters played as bad as some of the comments I have seen tonight here and on other boards. Sure their offense was stymied at times, but the defensive “breakdowns” were not really breakdowns. They were bad angle shots that MAF deposited in terrible spots, or he just plain missed. Its not like Ottawa was given odd man rushes or other golden opportunities.

    I expect MAF to bounce back like he normally does and the Pens to figure out their adjustments they need to make.

  8. As far as the offense goes, I was most annoyed by the Jekyl and Hyde nature of the team last night. They were on for one shift then off for 3. They looked unstoppable for 45 seconds then completely lost for 5 minutes. The pens have been firing a ton of pucks on net in many recent games and it just seems like a huge shame that they couldn’t find a way to put more shots on an obviously shaky goalie.

    The defensive breakdowns I saw weren’t anything huge but just little plays that would have made a big difference. A stick-lift here or there or taking a better angle on an attacking forward could have made a big difference. I think it was on the Ruutu goal when Letang jumped up on the play and nobody covered for him…As the Senators entered the Pens’ zone Staal was coasting across the blueline towards the high slot, watching the puck. As soon as I saw that I said “oh crap, he thinks there’s 2 D back” and sure enough he didn’t notice until too late that Ruutu was streaking down the wing uncovered. You could see Staal’s head snap over that way right before the pass was made but he was in no position at that point to get there.

    Little things like that are frustrating to see but on the other hand those should be easy fixes for next game. MAF was off but he’ll get it back. The offense needs to put 2-3 good shifts back to back and they’ll be fine. And the D just got burned by a couple small mistakes that turned out to be costly. With a little luck and a small adjustment they’ll be fine. And if Fleury is good then those mistakes don’t matter anyways.

    I have a question for everyone. Does anyone else think that the offense might have been hampered more than a little by Bylsma spending too much time trying to keep Crosby away from Volchenkov? Considering your 2nd line center is as good as your 1st and neither line has particularly impressive wingers why not just roll the lines like normal and whoever doesn’t get the top D pairing can provide the offense? The Pens are way more likely to “get to their game” if they’re not worrying about who is on the ice against who. Obviously sitting crosby for 4 minutes at a time or pulling him off 20 seconds into a shift isn’t doing anything for his offensive output. Let him go out and do his thing and watch Volchenkov and Phillips get worn down chasing him around. He’s a smart kid and he’ll find a way to beat these guys over the course of the series if he continues to play against them.

  9. Staal11fan

    I still think the Devils showed the other teams out there how to beat the Pens. The trap has been the biggest problem our team has faced all year. Late in the year after the Olympics the Devils won games 5 and 6 from us playing the trap. Too many defensive give aways and the offensife cant get thru their trap and into the offensive zone. Later Carolina, Tampa and Atlanta played the trap and we couldnt beat those so called bad teams on that night either. If Bylsma wants to get to his game they need to find a way to figure out how to beat other teams playing the trap or we will not go far.

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