Two consecutive shutouts - not how Pittsburgh anticipated this series to go. Therrien shuffled up the lines, scratched Laraque and brought in some veteran leadership with Roberts; but alas, it was all for none.
This isn't helping matters much...
"We took two penalties tonight on the goalie," Therrien said, turning up the heat on Osgood. "We never take penalty on the goalie in the playoff. I'll tell you something, I reviewed those plays. He's (Osgood) a good actor. He goes to players and he's diving. Took away our power play. (We've) got to get focused. I know our players are frustrated right now. It's tough to play the game."
The Penguins need an improvement and they need it now. Chris Osgood has been playing stellar, but he's hardly been challenged. 41 shots in two games? Come on, that's a little over the average goaltenders nightly workload. Challenge him and get to the net.
Easier said than done I suppose. Detroit does an excellent job of shutting down the lanes, blocking shots and controlling the neutral zone. So in reality, you can't make it to the net if you can't see the net.
While we're on the topic of Osgood, I'd just like to say that blogging for the Penguins has been a hobby, privilege and source of entertainment for the past year. I've seen/heard/had e-mails sent in regards to Crosby's diving, Malkin's slew-footing and Ruutu's 'questionable' play - but come on Osgood. If you can't take that little love tap from Sykora late in the third you shouldn't be playing hockey. You embellished against the Stars and now you're trying to tag a player in the box when you clearly have the win. Classless.
And hey, I'll be the first to admit that Roberts acted way out of line on that Franzen hit. While I don't doubt Franzen was seeing lil birdies over his head, the entire situation/hit was pointless. So I can dish it, take it and critique myself - that was uncalled for.
But let's get back to the topic at hand; Pittsburgh's inability to score. Is it Malkin trying to finesse, Crosby trying to drive or Gonchar's desire to slap from the point that is destroying this team's chances of scoring? Rather then play as a team it seems like the Pens are trying to do it as individuals. That isn't going to cut it in a Cup run.
When you really break it down, here is the solution to Pittsburgh's problems.
12-3-4 in Game One, 6-6-10 in Game Two. A good majority are being blocked, a ton of passes are missing the mark and the close calls wither away in a quick Detroit rush down the other end. Detroit's transition game is incredible; Pittsburgh can't crash the D-men on offense and get back in time to stop a rush. And so we see Pittsburgh's forwards unable to control the puck in the zone, cycle around and get a shot off. Towards the end of the game - you know, where it didn't matter anymore; Pittsburgh was really starting to look like they were gelling. Swift passes, shots on goal and just this sign of control. It was the one thing that stood out as a sign of hope in Game 2. What didn't help was a statistic that said Detroit kept the Malkin line shot-less. Shot-less (obviously) means they were a scoreless line, something you hope to at least muster up from the second line
Just like how you can't take yourself off the power play with a penalty of your own, you can't give Detroit a PP chance when you're down by two and looking to at least make SOME sort of comeback. Game One was nothing compared to Monday's game, where Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts spent more time in the box than on the ice. Tally eight minutes for Malone, 14 for Roberts and a total of 46 for the team. Amazingly, despite EIGHT power-play attempts, Pittsburgh's PK units kept Detroit scoreless.
Guys are getting burned. Gill is doing what he can with his size in the slot, but outside of that he's getting schooled left and right. When you mention something about the defense breaking down (which was key in Game 1) you first have to factor in exhaustion. With Pittsburgh's inability to control the puck in Detroit's zone and their own inability to clear the zone, you have guys skating marathon-like shifts out there. The only time they can catch a breath is when Detroit celebrates a goal.
In the end, at least the Pens are heading back to Pitt for Game 3. Optimistic Pens fans would pray that Pitt gets their footing (skating?) back and heads back to Detroit in a 2-2 series tie. The chances are there, yet just out of Pitt's reach when it comes time to capitalize.
Hey, I'm only the guy running this blog and writing this article, but it's as much your as it is mine.
What do you think Pittsburgh has to do to turn things around in Game 3? Is the change inward as mentioned, or should they consider looking at Detroit and doing something about that?