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Penguins

Shea-ved Ice: Is ‘The Switch’ Back?

By: Casey Shea
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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The Penguins have entered a weird funk lately and I’m not entirely sure why.

The recent trend is to sleepwalk through the first period or so, fall behind and then try to mount a massive comeback over the final 30 or so minutes of play.

Against Carolina on Nov. 12, Pittsburgh trailed 3-0 heading to the third period. However, they came out flying in the third period and rallied to tie the game.

Carolina capitalized on two mistakes to regain the lead and went on to win 5-3.

Against Colorado, the Penguins trailed 3-1 after one period of play and 3-2 after two. In the third they ripped off four unanswered goals to bury the Avalanche 6-3.

On Thursday against the Bolts, the Penguins largely outplayed their opponents. However, defensive mistakes allowed Tampa Bay to get ahead and Dwayne Roloson played out of his mind in the winning effort.

Last night against the Panthers, Pittsburgh came out with some jump and got the early lead just over a minute into the game.

However, they went into sleepwalk mode and Florida began to take control. They seized momentum and took a 2-1 lead early in the second period.

Pittsburgh didn’t wake up until Jordan Staal showed incredible patience while trying to settle a bouncing puck in front. After what seemed like an eternity, Staal slid the puck to the back of the net and from there, the Penguins had complete control of the game.

However, a late too many men on the ice call proved to be the difference. Florida scored their second power play goal of the game, which proved to be the game-winner.

Pittsburgh did not go down without a fight and threw everything they had at Theodore, who for one night at least, was able to shake his nickname of Three-Or-More.

Regardless, I remember not all that long ago there being mentions of the Penguins flipping “The Switch” and pulling themselves back into games.

We didn’t see that attribute for much of last season. The likely reason behind that is the sheer amount of injuries the team sustained, but could “The Switch” be back?

By no means am I saying I want to see this on a nightly basis, but there was cause for concern last season after they were unable to pull out a single win when trailing after two periods.

What I want to see out of the team is a constant effort for 60 minutes. You hear the players talking about it during intermission reports and such, but there have been few 60-minute efforts this season.

It’s no secret that the Penguins are capable of scoring in bunches and they have won games that way this year (see Colorado game). However, a hungrier approach to the start of the game would make the need for late surges less frequent.

During the second intermission against Colorado, Arron Asham was one of a couple guys to stand up and rally the troops. Whatever he did worked, as the Penguins showed why they are already among the league’s elite this season.

We’ve seen glimpses of what this team is capable of. The season is still young, but it’s encouraging to see that the Penguins can completely take over a game at any given moment.

Hot goaltending will always be a problem and the Pens have run into several over the past two weeks. It happens and we all know Marc-Andre Fleury has stolen his fair share of points as well.

It’s just part of the game.

However, it’s unfortunate that the Penguins were unable to get a win during the dads’ trip. I wonder if the fathers pulled their sons aside after these games to go over what they did wrong. Not in a bad way of course, just as a sort of constructive criticism session.

My dad would point things out to me on the way home from the rink all the time. While I didn’t want to admit it at the time, it made me a better player and more conscious of what was going on around me on the ice.

He’d tell me things like: “Straddle the blue line so you have momentum when you get the puck.”

“Keep your head up and you won’t get sent flipping through the air like that.”

“If it’s not broken or torn, we’re not going to the hospital.”

You may laugh at that, but every one of those was said to me at one point during my playing days.

The point is, it has to be fun having your dad not worrying about getting up early or staying out late to let you play the greatest game on the planet.

While the players on the ice have sacrificed a lot to make it to where they are, their loved ones sacrificed just as much.

That part of every player’s story is not as well known. We all know about Sidney Crosby’s dryer and the Staal’s homemade rink.

But what about the parents who lugged their son to the rink at 6 a.m. for countless practices because it was the only ice time the team could get?

I think it’s great that the Penguins hold these trips so the dads can see their sons playing at hockey’s highest level.

It’s just another way that the Pens as an organization simply “get it.”

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CaseySheaPens.

For More Penguins Coverage Check Out Puck Talk With Popchock.

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