I spent many hours pondering the correct word to sum up last night’s loss to the Boston Bruins.
What came to mind that could actually be published included: travesty, debacle, meltdown, collapse. However, none of them seemed appropriate.
What made more sense to me was a famous saying from New York Rangers coach John Tortorella.
Ironically, it’s not one of the gems he’s made a splash on YouTube with. (Warning: Torts uses some inappropriate language during the clips. Nothing like Bruce Boudreau’s rants on “24/7,” so use your discretion.)
The one I’m referring to is: “Safe is death.”
For 40 minutes the Penguins looked just fine. Pucks were getting in deep, shots were being put on the net, the power play showed signs of life again. Not to mention, the Penguins held a two-goal lead heading into the third period…again.
Yet again, they packed it in for the third period and tried to sit on the lead. Pittsburgh looked content to sit back and let Boston attack at will figuring the game was in the bag.
The only guy on the ice who continued to battle for 60 minutes was Marc-Andre Fleury. He was brilliant last night and did not deserve to lose that game. He went from posting a shutout to taking a loss in a span of 2:33.
Not one of those goals could be pegged on Fleury and to even try and blame him would be foolish and ignorant. Though, I’m sure there will be some people out there saying “He has to make the big stop in that situation.”
Let’s dispel any of that talk shall we?
First Goal – Zdeno Chara power play goal – Chara unloads a bomb of a knuckle puck from the point, through a screen that would have left Fulton Reed, Russ Tyler and Coach Gordon Bombay impressed. All we were missing was Dan Bylsma yelling “Ze defenseman!” in an awful Icelandic accent to complete the parallel.
Second Goal – Brad Marchand – Just 12 seconds after Chara’s goal, the Bruins struck again to tie the game. If it sounds familiar, it is. Think back to when these two teams first met this season. In case you weren’t watching the game, Washington Capitals’ announcer Joe Beninati was quick to point out countless times throughout the broadcast that the Pens had surrendered five goals in the third to lose 7-4 on Nov. 10.
Seriously, his dislike of the Penguins is palpable and for it to come across like that on a national broadcast is even worse. At least Andy Brickley was speaking well of the Pens during the game. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Brickley is the color guy for the Bruins on NESN. I won’t even go down the road of how Brickley always gets paired up with the worst announcers in hockey (Jack Edwards, Beninati, etc.). I’ll save that for a rainy day.
Anyway, Patrice Bergeron hustles to a rebound on a blast by Greg Campbell, finds Marchand streaking down the slot unchecked, who dekes around Fleury and puts it into the empty net.
Bergeron beat Paul Martin and Evgeni Malkin to the rebound, while Chris Kunitz watched Marchand fly by before the goal. Everyone was gliding in the zone, while the Bruins were skating. Boston simply outworked the Pens in the third period. Pittsburgh was outshot 13-2 in the final period.
Third Goal – Mark Recchi Power Play Goal - With Jordan Staal sent off for holding, Boston’s power play went to work with a chance to win the game. Dennis Seidenberg found a loose puck to Fleury’s right and fired a pass through the box to Michael Ryder. Ryder let a wrist shot go from the slot that Fleury made a great pad save on. However, Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis and Zbynek Michalek were in the area for the rebound and were unable to tie up Recchi’s stick. As a result, the veteran deposits the puck into the net and the Pens go on to lose the game.
By my count, this is the fourth third period collapse of the season for the Penguins. It’s now happened twice against Boston, once against Montreal in the second game of the season and against the Rangers on Dec. 15. In that game, the Pens held a 1-0 lead entering the third period and surrendered four goals in 6:19.
If you do the math, that’s a maximum of eight points the Pens have handed to opponents this season and the second half has only begun.
If this type of play continues, it’s going to be a long second half of the season. If the effort isn’t there for 60 minutes a night, these types of collapses are going to happen.
Once was enough, twice to the same team is inexcusable.
I don’t need to mention anything about the 4-0 whitewashing at the hands of the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. All I’ll say is that the book on how to beat the Penguins is getting out there. This team needs to stop trying to get cute in the neutral zone against trap teams. Just dump the puck and go get it. Get back to basics and play a simple strategy. Have support for the passes coming out of the defensive zone, hit the red line and dump it.
Once the Pens were set up in the offensive zone, they got decent chances. The problem was that only happened a few times in the game.
Hopefully, the Penguins will put this behind them quickly when they head to Montreal tomorrow and to Boston on Saturday.
Putting the loss behind them is one thing, they just can’t forget it’s happened and repeat it again.
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