Picking up the pieces

Random thoughts:

  • The Pens are 3-0 this playoff season on the road (obviously all in Ottawa).  Well, it's actually in Kanata, outside of Ottawa where the team struggled -- relative to Canada -- to get the games sold out.  Obviously it'll be a totally different environment in the hockey hotbed of Montreal, but I think the 3-0 record speaks well of how Pittsburgh plays "road hockey"
  • Bouncing back is an important factor for goalies, and a lot is made about Marc-Andre Fleury.  Consider: this post-season, the game coming off of a lose, Fleury is 2-0 with a 1.86 GAA and a .922 save percentage.  Can't ask for much more than that, let's see if he can again bounce back after this Game 2 loss.

More off-day goodness for you after the jump...

  • Then again, Montreal's style of play makes it tough for a goalie.  Montreal has averaged only 27.3 shots/game (2nd lowest of any active team) and they've given up 39.4 shots against (most among active teams).  It's hard to get in the rythym when a goalie isn't seeing a puck much, and Fleury's likely to see <30 shots next game.  While that's a good sign that play is not in Pittsburgh's end a lot, it often means that when the Habs transition, they're in a better position to make their shots count.
  • Nugget from TSN courtesy of Scott Gomez: "That's what we wanted to do, a series like this, we wanted to get one [win in Pittsburgh].  It's far from over. But we came for one."  That shows Montreal's mentality: they've been bombared shot-wise but through great defense and a hot goalie, they know they are in this and are prepared and counting on another long series in which maybe they can steal enough games to win the series.  It worked for them against Washington (where they also won 1 of the first 2 games), and that seems to be the plan against Pittsburgh.
  • How do the Pens counter this?  Obviously it's going to be tweaks, no major over-hauls, but adjustments need to be made.  Players and coaches may say along the lines of "we need to keep playing our game", but that's largely what Washington said and did.  There's no doubt Jaroslav Halak and the defense can and will clamp down on any lead and try to hold on.  To adjust how about this: keep the pressure up but maybe look for more low shots.  Halak didn't give many second chances, but if the Pens can put the puck off of Halak and into a "panic" zone, logic dictates that sooner or later they'll get pucks in.
  • Especially when soldiers like Matt Cooke, Craig Adams, Maxime Talbot and Pascal Dupuis are playing so well and producing.  It's surely not a beauty pageant this time of year.
  • Naturally though, the best players have to get pucks to the net.  Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby only had 4 shots total Game 2 (3 Malkin; 1 Crosby) and they both only had one shot a piece on goal in Game 1.  MTL will get their home-team matchups (which they've pretty much gotten anyways), but that doesn't stop the fact that Sid and Geno have to get the puck to the goalie more.  No way Pittsburgh can win without more there.
  • For the second time in two games Scott Gomez has gotten the puck behind the net, centered it out for a quick shot.  Tough for any goalie to recover so quickly, if the forward gets a good shot of, that's going to go in.  The Pittsburgh defense has to adjust here and be very mindful of disrupting Gomez behind the net.
  • Fleury, Dupuis, Talbot, Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby are either all from Quebec or, in Crosby's case, have very strong ties.  The Habs will be fired up to be at home for the first time since April 26th, but I'm watching for how those Pens players will play.
  • Jordan Leopold got eased in with just 15:55 played coming back from his concussion/head trauma, but he looked solid out there back in the playoff field.  Tyler Kennedy, in his first game since a knee/leg injury since April 20th, wasn't back on his regular line with Cooke but also played well.  Hopefully now they've knocked some rust off and can take a slightly bigger share going forward.

What's burning you today?  What do the Pens need to do -- is status quo enough, betting the bounces will come?  Should there be roster shakeups or at least roster shakeups?  Let's hash it out in the comments.

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