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How to Hang Your Goalie out to Dry 101; Guest Professors The Pittsburgh Penguins. Pens lose 5-2

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When you're playing an opportunistic and talented team like the New Jersey Devils, you have to get the puck deep.  Don't try to make any fancy passes, especially when the pucks coming out of the zone or they'll make you pay.

Kris Letang, Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Leopold might have well guest lectured "How to not play the puck 101".  And in this pre-playoff course the Devils took advantage of the Penguins miscues and never looked back.

The Devils have taken all six games from the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Do they have the Pens number?  Well, yeah.  Is it inconcievable that the Penguins can't rally back in the playoffs?  No.  But they better learn the lessons, because in the playoffs it obviously counts.

  • The Penguins haven't been this bad on line-changes since Michel Therrien was manning the benches.  Is it just result of playing a tremendous opponent like the Devils or something that needs to be addressed?  As always, Dan Bylsma was composed and silent throughout the game so the real work starts tomorrow: let's learn from the mistakes and not make them again.  Get the pucks deep, make smart passes, skate the puck when you can and for the love of God don't turn the puck over in vulnerable zones.
  • It's hard to blame Marc-Andre Fleury, he actually saved Leopold's bacon on the PP on a breakaway and also recovered from a Brooks Orpik turnover at the end of the 1st period.  A goalie's job is to make saves, but given how many times the Devils took advantage of Pittsburgh's mistakes it's tough to expect too much.
  • Brent Johnson came in cold and like an Army medic, he stopped the bleeding.  But by that point, it was too late.
  • St. Patrick's Day 2009 the Pens beat the Atlanta Thrashers 6-2 on the strength of a five point night by Evgeni Malkin.  This night they played a tougher defense, a much better goalie and Malkin was out of the game.  It all showed.  Get better soon, Geno.
  • As usual, the Penguins out-shot and out-attempted their opponents.  Shots were 26-19, attempts were 56-31.  The difference was the turnovers and the transition offense that NJ executed to a fault.

With this, Pittsburgh is 0-6 to the Devils, who now have the catbird seat for the Atlantic Division championship and a top 3 seed in the playoffs.  Both teams still have 12 games to play and anything could happen.  NJ has to be feeling good about their dominance over the Pens, but once the second season starts, you might as well throw everything out.  With some good luck, the Pens get Malkin back soon and can out-race the Devils to the division championship.  But that's very much up for grabs at this point.

Now the Pens have to fly to Boston and have surely an emotional game against Matt Cooke vs. the entire city of Boston.  Do they go back to Fleury?  Will the Pens bounce back?  Stay tuned, we'll find out soon.