Confessions From My Couch
I confess that I found myself abruptly awoken on my couch early this morning following the devastating loss to the Senators. Whatâ€™s worse, I fell asleep at some point between the first and second overtime periods, leaving me to miss the end of the game and to question my dedication to the team.
In my defense, I had a long weekend and began a new work schedule this morning that required me to get up nearly two hours earlier than normal. I needed my beauty sleep, you know!
And, with that said, letâ€™s scrape some iceâ€¦
- No one expected the Penguins to win 16 straight en route to the Stanley Cup. Heck, I predicted the Penguins would win this series in five games. They canâ€™t win in five if they donâ€™t lose one somewhere along the way. Last nightâ€™s loss was disappointing, but itâ€™s far from the end of the world.
- The Penguins, in my opinion, outplayed the Senators for much of the game. That can be taken in a positive light (theyâ€™ve outplayed the Senators in all three games) or in a negative light (they outplayed the Senators, yet still lost).
- Iâ€™ve read and heard plenty of finger pointing regarding the power play at the end of regulation. My take: Coach Dan Bylsma wouldnâ€™t have used his penalty killers in an attempt to tie the game if his team was behind by one, so why did he use his power players to hold off the Senators? The execution was terrible, but the game plan wasnâ€™t any better.
- That said, no game ever comes down to one shot or one save. Both teams played 60 minutes of regulation hockey and just two goals were scored. There were plenty of opportunities for either team to grab the bull by the horns and end the game in regulation. The final 1:30 of regulation may be subject to scrutiny, but it didnâ€™t have to come down to that.
- Tomas Vokoun has taken control of the goal and is refusing to look back. Heâ€™s now started five games Marc-Andre Fleuryâ€™s four, and the numbers are mind-boggling. Vokoun is 4-1 with a 1.61 GAA, .949 Sv%, and 1 shutout. Fleury is 2-2 with a 3.40 GAA, .891 Sv%, and 1 shutout. Vokoun has given up nine goals to Fleuryâ€™s 14.
- Donâ€™t write off Fleury yet, as this is uncharted territory for Vokoun, who has surprisingly little playoff experience. Then again, Vokoun is showing no signs of wear-and-tear due to age, rust, or anything, and with each passing strong performance, Iâ€™ve got to believe the chances of Fleury making another appearance grow smaller and smaller.
- Speaking of making an appearance, Iâ€™m itching to see what Jussi Jokinen might be able to accomplish in this series. Sure, his speed was a hindrance against the Islanders, but his strong play after being traded to Pittsburgh is a strong case for why he can help. He is dominant in faceoffs (much needed against Kyle Turris and Jason Spezza), can kill penalties effectively, and can bring some additional skill to a fourth line with Kennedy and Adams.
- Of course, Joe Vitale, who didnâ€™t play last night, has not earned a seat in the press box. No word on his status for Game Four, but if he canâ€™t go â€“ and assuming Jokinen is healthy enough to play â€“ he should get his chance, as Tanner Glass just didnâ€™t cut it last night.
- When I think of a bottom line, hard-hitting forward, Chris Neil comes to mind. His game is an example of what I want to see from Glass. Sure, Glass might not have as much â€œskillâ€ as Neil, but he certainly has enough ability to wreak havoc on opponents with his size, strength, and hitting ability. Instead, weâ€™re seeing a relatively-invisible fourth liner who has no positive impact on the game.
- Neil, on the other hand, is as visible as they come, always flirting with the line of legal and illegal, while rattling the Penguins. Unfortunately for him, it would seem he might be out for a while with what has been described as an arm injury following a second overtime hit.
Moving along, here are a few questions Iâ€™ve asked myselfâ€¦
- Am I the only one who gets nervous seeing Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and James Neal on the ice at critical points in a game? I just cringe waiting for a stupid penalty or turnover.
- Why is it that referees feel â€œletting the boys playâ€ is better than â€œdetermining the outcome of the gameâ€ by calling a penalty? Last I checked refusing to call a penalty is a good example of determining the outcome of the game.
- Is it just me, or is the level of â€œhateâ€ in this series significantly less than anticipated? With the recent history between these teams, dating back to numerous playoff series and as recent as the Erik Karlsson/Matt Cooke incident, I honestly thought this series would be a bit nastier.
- When the cameras focus in on Mario Lemieux and his entourage in the ownerâ€™s box, donâ€™t you just get the feeling that he still could step on the ice and outscore half of the players in the league? Heâ€™s got that aura about him.
- Lastly, isnâ€™t it amazing how one game a player (Sidney Crosby) can load up with three goals and the next game barely muster three shots? Iâ€™m not faulting Sid, but instead crediting Ottawa.