Mad City Mike wrote:Otherwise known as the day after the disaster.
OFFENSE: B-. They outscored the Thrash 2-1 at ES, so not a bad effort. Would have been higher if not for a pretty poor first period. They came out with no jump at all, and it took some time to get their bearings after the first goal. But the third period was great. They really took it to Atlanta. It took Atlanta having an actual NHL goalie to keep the Pens from putting more on the board, as Lehtonen was spectacular.
DEFENSE: C. Only one ES goal allowed, but it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pretty. Is there a rule that your defensemen have to back off into the stands every time Kovalchuk carries the puck in? I mean, I know our defensemen suck and know theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll get burned if they try to challenge him, but this was ridiculous. Compare this to how teams challenge Sid, always sending two guys after him. If Shero doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t spend this Christmas break talking a trade or two for defensemen with every team, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be a long winter.
POWER PLAY: F. They have once again reached the stage where theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be better off declining penalties. They just have zero clue what theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re doing right now. They canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bring the puck up the ice without coughing it up. They donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t outwork the opponent. They refuse to shoot when they get a chance. They try for the perfect play every time. When was the last time this PP got a deflection goal? The hole at the left point is glaring. Neither Recchi nor Whitney is a guy the other team even worries about. Oh, and how about Rob Scuderi (he of one career goal) getting over a minute of PP time? Nothing speaks to the quality (or lack thereof) of their defensemen better than that? And you wonder why they canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t score? Coaching hurt, too, but more on that in a moment.
PENALTY KILL: F. Two more goals allowed, though it was mitigated a bit by StaalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s great shorty. On the first one, Melichar had full possession of the puck and gave it away. I should just make a macro for that statement. On the second, Nasreddine couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have done it any better if he had been dressed in blue. He screened Thibault AND deflected the shot. If only we could teach our forwards to do this on the PP. But then again, that would require someone actually shooting it from the point.
GOALTENDING: B-. Overall, Thibault played pretty well, But he allowed that brutal first goal that had them in the hole from the start, and his performance in the shootout was laughable. He did that as if to say to all the fans that want him to replace Fleury for shootouts, Ã¢â‚¬Å“you really donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to do that.Ã¢â‚¬ï¿¾ He barely flinched on either goal. He did, however, make some big saves through the game to keep them in it.
OVERALL: C. As OT losses go, this was a good one. They fell behind on a weak goal, but never went away. They really came on as the game went on, and only the stellar work of Lehtonen kept them from a possible win. The final two periods were excellent, other than the special teams.
COACHING: F. Okay, I am officially on the Ã¢â‚¬Å“dump TherrienÃ¢â‚¬ï¿¾ bandwagon. The special teams disaster is the fault of poor coaching. One sequence turned me against him. There was a 4-on-4 for about a minute, followed by a Pens PP. What does Planet Therrien do? He puts Sid on at the start of the 4-on-4, so that he wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be available for the PP. Can anyone give me a rational explanation for this? Or for the fact that your best player had almost 2 minutes less PP time than your second best player? It makes no sense at all. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not saying the personnel on this team is great, but the coach is not maximizing his talent. Idiot. And while IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m at it, why do Sid and Malkin not play together in games like this. I can understand against a defensive team why it might not make sense, but against a wide open team like this, what could it hurt? And why arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t they out there together in OT, once you already have a point???
MAX TALBOT: F. Brutal game by him. I think we know who the fourth line scratch du jour will be next game. Missed a couple great scoring chances, and stood there with his thumb up his posterior on the Kovalchuk PP goal.
MARK RECCHI: F. Was anyone else hoping, when the ref TÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d him up, that he would get a game misconduct. Gawd, he is awful. He gave the puck away numerous times, and also missed on a couple of glorious chances. Retire already, Mark.
EVGENI MALKIN: A. Another great game by him, although it is baffling why he canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t score on breakaways. He seems to be Ã¢â‚¬Å“getting itÃ¢â‚¬ï¿¾ more and more.
RED WINE SPILLAGE ON NEW CARPET: F. But pet stain remover works wonders.
THRASHERS HOME JERSEYS: A. I love them. Great color scheme and design.
FACEOFFS: F. When your top two centers go 9/31, you should consider yourself fortunate to steal a point.
PENS IN SHOOTOUTS: F. Of course, I missed the one against the Caps. But once the OT was over, I really didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even want to watch. I had seen Atlanta torch Brodeur the other night, and now they got Thibault. And we all know the Pens canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t score in them. So it was over from the start. Memo to Sid: stop thinking and just make a move.
I don't know, MCM, I've been on the "dump MT" bandwagon as much as anyone, but I have to give credit where credit is due:
For MT to put Sid and Malkin together at even strength BEFORE the midway point of a game and BEFORE the team was down 3-0, that was inspired. I can't think of any other coach in the NHL who would have chosen that precise moment. Of course, any other coach would have made the move earlier.
Seriously, their play made a point that I have been making for a month. Apart, they'll have their great moments, but they'll usually be flashes, off the rush against decent teams. Against a team with any kind of defensive depth, it's a lot tougher. Atlanta was shadowing Sid or Malkin, when they were apart, defensively with one forward and had the defenseman there for support. But, if you put them together, the opponent can't do that without creating a lot of open ice in its defensive zone and allowing the Pens to SUSTAIN pressure, which is what happened last night.
I have been begging to see Ekman-Staal-Recchi back together for a while. I have been curious to see how Ruutu-Moore-Army would play as a checking line. MCM, do you think MT8771, the most dense matter in the universe, learned anything about the Pens at even strength last night.
As for the PP, what can you do? I saw one shift where the puck movement was excellent last night, and that was when it was Ekman-Sid-Malkin with Gonch and Whitney behind. But, this goes to what netwolf wrote a few days ago: On your first PP unit, you want guys who already knowe what they're going to do with the puck before it gets to them.
As for the PK, I don't know that I'd totally kill it. The Kozlov goal was off a skate. The Kovalchuk goal was a combo lucky bounce and Talbot getting caught in no man's land. Talbot-Army is a nice PK tandem, but highly skilled PP units are able to pass through the box on them. Frankly, I think Staal and Malkin, with their reaches and anticipation, should be the #1 PK unit. They're the guys best able to stop the passes through the box and most likely to keep play to the perimeter. I saw them once against MTL. Malkin broke his stick but, curiously, MTL still didn't score.
One last comment on Malkin: The stop on his breakaway last night was a good defensive play at the last second that prevented him from making a move. That said, he really has been playing well, and played even better with Sid. I hope MT keeps them together, because I also think Sid needs the help and had an extra hop last night in the second half of the game.