By Jason Ioli
After game 5 a lot of things have been said about the Penguins and their performance. For the most part I think they have all been correct, so I see no reason to argue that. But I propose that getting the snot beat out of them by the Detroit Red Wings might have been the best thing that could have happened to the Penguins. Sure, a win would have been preferred, but I think the old fashion butt whooping received on Saturday could be the spark that leads to the Stanley Cup.
Pretty much since Dan Bylsma took over as coach of the Pens they have not really played a "bad" game. There have been some sub-par performances and some games where either the goaltending was porous or the offense was asleep. But there had not been any games where the Pens really "stank up the place. That is until they left a foul odor at Joe Louis arena that was so bad they took the octopus back out of the trash. Even in this years playoffs the losses to the Flyers and the Capitals were not always great performances, but the Pens were still playing well and always in the game. Unwittingly, they may have been a little too overconfident in their capabilities and thought they were ultimately invincible. The thought process has been, even if they lose a game, they will just come back and win the next.
While any coach in the world would welcome a team with that mindset, I say they needed a humbling experience like they got at the Joe to bring them back down to earth. They have been running on autopilot. They have been playing their game plan, and it is a good one. But they needed to take a step back, blink a couple of times, and shake their head out of the fog of the playoffs. I imagine it is like having tunnel vision. They have been incapable of properly adjusting because they have been so focused on sticking to their game. They didn’t think they were doing anything wrong and therefore did not really change much about their play. Now I only hope they have snapped out of it and can see the mountain that is ahead of them. The Pens need to start over again like it is day one in the Bylsma era. They need to feel like they did in the early days when they kept winning and it was new to them.
Now don’t misunderstand me. I don’t want them to change the way they play. Disco Dan has a great plan and it is working. The Penguins just need to readjust their approach to the system. They need to open their eyes to the reality that is staring them in the face. Win or go home. They need to be a little scared and a little worried about losing. They need to understand that they played horribly in game 5. They need to use that fear and that anger and channel it into the Dan Plan and get back on their game with new perspective. Then maybe, just maybe, they can send these Red Wings packing once and for all.
But it takes a humiliating defeat like the 5-0 demolishing that the Penguins received to get this motor started. Not that we are passed that, it is time to start the march towards the end. It is time for the march towards victory!
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