Friday, April 30, 2010

Jaroslav Who?...Pens Win 6-3 in Dominant Fashion

Nope, it wasn't the Washington Capitals you were facing huh Canadiens? Instead, it was a team that knows how to play a team game and has a leader in Sid who keeps his mouth shut and lets his play do the talking. The Pens registered 6 goals tonight and surprisingly none were from Sid or Geno. Granted Sid had a couple great setups and Geno was a force throughout.

Coming off 6 days of rest the Pens looked very sharp. The Habs on the other hand looked a bit tired, sloppy, and emotionally drained from their epic upset over the Caps just a few days ago. Has Halak been cracked? Will the Pens breeze through the Habs? Will Price start in game 2? Halak I'm sure will start in the next game although he got pulled with the Habs trailing 5-2 with 11 minutes left in the 3rd. I think Coach Martin realized it'd be good to give Jaro a good rest because they'll need him in the next game.

The Pens weren't overly-dominant, in fact the Habs outshot them 31 to 24. But the Pens made their shots count where it mattered: on the PP. They went a perfect 4 for 4 with 3 goals coming from D-men (Gonch, Letang, Gogo) and one from Staal on the 2nd PP unit. After the Habs drew first blood off a PK Subban goal the Pens took over the game. Geno drew a penalty, goal. Cooke nails Markov (clean hit) and then Gomez retaliates, goal again.

The Habs wouldn't go away as Cammy made it 3-2 in the 2nd period but Adams scored a huge goal to make it 4-2 and solidify the victory. Secondary scoring is a crucial part of winning in the playoffs. Cooke, Dupuis, and Adams were tremendous. Finishing checks, backchecking, and adding some offensive flair as well. Dupuis and Cooke were key parts to the game 6 victory in Ottawa last weekend and they were back at it tonight.

What about the Habs? How could they shut down the Caps PP and limit them to 3 goals in 3 games? The Habs were clearly emotionally and physically drained. And they do NOT have the offensive depth to match the Pens. Moore, Metropolit, Lapierre, and Pyatt were pretty much invisible. While the Pens 3rd and 4th lines created most of the offense for the black and gold. Frankly I only see Chicago and Detroit with depth up front to match the Pens.

Bylsma mentioned in the post-game presser that he'd like to see more shots. The Pens D were pinching in the off. zone throughout this game because the Habs offense is so bad they can afford to take some risks. The Habs had trouble exiting the zone and creating any off. zone time, just like in the Caps series. Cammy was a threat tonight, Gionta was solid, and rookie PK Subban is a gem. He scored the 1st goal and his fancy moves lead to the Habs 3rd goal.

The Habs are clearly overmatched in this series and guys like Plekanec, Kostistyn, and Cammy will have to elevate their level of play if this series is to prolong. But the Pens can't take them for granted like the Caps did after going up 3-1. The minute you relax or think the series is over, the Habs will capitalize and score. After all Gomez/Gionta and several others have Cup rings on their resume, they won't give up.

Markov and Staal both left the game and did not return. Hopefully Staal is OK but the collision with Subban looked nasty. Staal has played in 358 consecutive games including the playoffs. Let's hope the streak keeps going. Meanwhile Markov is the Habs' PP QB and a huge off. threat from the backside, let's see what happens. Adams now has 2 goals in 7 playoff games after going scoreless during the regular season LOL.


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