So here we are just hours away from Game 2. I'm actually surprised at the amount of controversy that has followed game 1; I had more respect for the Caniacs out there. All I've heard about from the other sources (blogs, etc) is how bad the officiating was and why they think Matt Cooke should be [have been] suspended for his knee to knee collision with Cole. Some have even gone as far as to criticize Hall Gill for not being able to take a hit from Cole. Like I said, this perplexes me as I thought the Canes writers had more class than that.
Sometimes you're perspective of a game can change a few hours or even days after you watch it. You read and hear peoples opinions and your mind can be altered. But for me, despite all of the rants and criticism I've read, I haven't changed my position. I felt the Penguins overall play was pretty bad and inconsistent. Aside from the two goals by Boucher and Geno ultimately the Pens looked pretty flat. Satan's goal was more or less a matter of luck. Sure it was a great deke, but the goal wasn't created by solid play in any sense.
As far as the Canes, they actually played a fairly well game. Much of what has gotten them this far is what they've shown us. They play very solid defense and I was truly impressed by their penalty kill. Their really spread the ice well and seem to get into position at the right time. They fought well against the boards and really pressured the forecheck. Staal, Whitney and Jokinen provided some great opportunities, particularly at the end of the game when every Penguin fan's heart was pumping out of their chest, inlcuding myself. Hence the Cardiac Canes.
So whats do we make of this? Well, I've heard the Canes fans say they're pretty confident going into game two. While I think there is some truth to that in how they played in game 1, I don't think its a very strong position. In my opinion the Pens played one of their worst of the playoffs, yet still won. They won at the hands of the role players role players, Satan and Boucher. More than likely they will not score again in the rest of the playoffs. Also, you saw nearly nothing from the "worlds best hockey player." Crosby was as ineffective last game as Sykora was the later half of the season. Should he produce the way he has all playoffs long the outlook looks very grim for the Canes. And with Cole and Ruutu possibly being out, it doesn't look good for Carolina.
Pens Keys to Game 2:
- Execution: We've heard that word more times in the past two days from Crosby and the rest of the organization that its got to be ingrained in our skulls. But they're right. The Penguins played this game like they did every game in December. They looked flat, they played "soff." Their timing was off for the most part (passing, shooting). What they need to go back to is exectuting more with the chances they're given. Ward will have something to say about this, but the more chances the better. And the better chances the better.
- Defense: I do feel our defense played well I just felt they made some untimely turnovers which created some chances. This perhaps can more or less be a subset of key #1 seeing as really the Pens need to take care of the puck in the neutral zone and behind their own net.
- Crosby: As I said above, Sid had very little impact on this game. Despite his 21 minutes of play Crosby only had 2 shots on goal, and those came in the 3rd period (one that never had a chance). Should Sid show up and get 4+ shots on goal he's been averaging the Pens will have much better production from everyone.
- Grit and Urgency: One thing Bylsma mentioned as an adjustment was winning scrubs along the boards. That physicality and mentality can be changed by their motivation. To which I say the Pens need more grit, more urgency. When you look at the last two series you seen a "willingness" the guys just didn't seem to have Monday.