PENGUINS WIN 4-3 OVER COLUMBUS GAME 3
Let’s try some sports blogging, why don’t we?
So the Penguins somehow mounted a 4-3 win over the Blue Jackets last night in Columbus. I know I didn’t see that coming after the 2-0 score less than five minutes into the first period. Yep, that’s right, 2-0 after less than five minutes. Some may attribute it to Fleury giving up a rebound, “like a pez dispenser,” spoken by Pierre McGuire, but I’m going to chalk those first two goals up to just a pure lack of strong defense at the jump. Lumbus and their calvary came to play. They were ready from the start to ride the momentum of their franchise first ever playoff win. Good to know the Penguins still know how to be a part of history. Lumbus did exactly what they aimed to do, they attacked, they checked, they battled, they scored, they disrupted, they killed penalties, they shut the Pens out, all until about 0.7 seconds were left in the second period.
A dangle from Orpik lead to a literal last second goal in the second period for the Penguins to shrink the mountain they had to climb to only a 1 goal deficit. Wait, what? Couldn’t be Brooks Orpik who sparked our offense, could it? It could and it was. Somebody had to step up since 87 and 71 were all but invisible as far as the score-sheet goes. This isn’t anything unfamiliar to those watching these games though, defenseman are scoring and scoring often. Martin(6 in 0G, 6A), Niskanen(4 in 2G, 2A), Maata(2 in 0G, 2A), Orpik(2 in 1G, 1A). Basically everyone not named Letang(0) or Scuderi(0). Two of our top three scorers in these playoffs are defenseman. That’s not okay when you have two of the world’s widely-agreed best players.
These superstars in Crosby and Malkin are trying their damnedest to make something happen, but therein lies the problem. They’re trying too hard and not doing what needs to be done. Crash the net. Make crisp passes. Shoot.
These two and the guys around them are doing nearly everything but those few essential things. Turnovers, second guessing shots, second guessing passes, settling for lateral passes on a power play, errant passes, the whole mess screams nerves and lack of composure. They look like the Malkin and Crosby from the Bruins series last year that were held scoreless. Thank god our defense and bottom six are showing up, because Malkin and Crosby have yet to arrive.
They will though, that’s who they are. I firmly believe any team can only stop them for so long. They don’t have quite the career of playoff demons like other penguins do.
Playoff demons are a tough thing to battle, any demons are, really. But if anyone can be a poster-boy for how to overcome some very obviously deep seeded demons in the sports world, it’s no one other than Marc-Andre Fleury. I know the stat sheet doesn’t quite show it, but the man has been arguably our most consistent player. He is constantly hung out to dry by the defense or by a turnover from a forward and still manages to bail the team out. He had two quick strikes against him in the first of last game, but then didn’t let anything else in until the third. And that was only one goal. The man has already faced 99 shots in only 3 games. He’s had to lay on his back, flap his legs around, throw his blocker erratically, glide from side to side, follow dangles that get past 2 or 3 defenseman in the last 5 seconds of the game, and more. You name something you’d like a playoff goalie to be able to pull off, and this man has done it already this series-well that is short of a shutout. Though again, with the state of this current defense, I don’t believe any net-minder could accomplish that feat. The Pens in general look shaky, but Fleury has been solid and we can at least rest easy on that fact.
While they look shaky, all hope is not lost. They’re up 2-1 in the series, and have already come back from two 3-1 deficits in those two wins. They also conceded a 3-1 lead in the only loss, but that seems to be the theme for these playoffs. Don’t be fooled by the pattern though. I’d always rather be up 3-1 than trying to mount comebacks night after night. The Penguins need some scoring from the top 6, and they need their defenseman to play smarter. It’s obviously not as simple as that, but if we can do all the things required to improve those two facets of the game, these playoffs could easily last until May for our Vegas Gold donning friends.
Let’s. Go. Pens.