Sometimes you just have to forget the last game and move on, that includes PensU recaps. Don't get me wrong, losing to the same team six times during the season, the very team which you're battling for the division title with, does shake your confidence quite a bit, particularly with the playoffs right around the corner. But, we have to close that door and focus on what might be a bigger issue at hand, the Bruins.
For the first time in maybe his entire career the focus of today's game is not on Sidney Crosby. We all know who the focus is on, Matt Cooke. I don't need to tell you why...you know why. The picture on the right is why.
From what I understand there is actually going to be heightened security at the Bruins game just to be safe; no telling what the Bruins fans might do or how they will react given the controversy surrounding the severity of Savard's injury and the subsequent acquittal of Matt Cooke. In addition to the ramped up security, Colin Campbell and other committee members will be on hand tomorrow speaking to Owners, GM's and Coaches before the game about the consequences if anything bad should happen. We all remember the Todd Bertuzzi incident on Steve Moore that ended very badly. So badly as a matter of fact there there is a $38 million dollar lawsuit that is still in the courts. Brian Burke will actually be on hand to talk to Bruins management about this very thing. Incidentally Cooke was tangentially involved in that ordeal while playing with Vancouver.
A quick little note of interest that the media has not really shared with the masses up to this point is that Savard has actually had 6 hockey related concussions prior to his most recent run in with Cooke. Now, clearly we don't want to minimize the severity of his injury, surely we feel bad for Mark. However what do we make of this? Anyone who knows anything about concussions knows that the more you get them the more susceptible you are the next time around. Thus it was a given that Savard would have had another concussion from the hit he most recently received. Now, would someone who has never had a concussion before in fact had one as a result of Cooke's hit? Yes, no, maybe? Really there's no way to tell. But, I'm of the opinion that the magnitude of this controversy revolves around the "severity" of the injury. As such, its been blown out of proportion given the inability of Savard to withstand a hit like this. I propose the league needs to evaluate a players ability to ensure and tolerate the physical nature of the game, lest we find ourselves wrangling over this very point once again. Oh, and up to now, Cooke has had over 2000 hits in his 11 year NHL career and only 2 have been deemed illegal. Just saying...
Now, with all that said there's a game at hand that the Pens need to focus on. They need to put Jacques Lemaire on the back burner for a moment and get back to the basics of winning hockey games. Whether Geno is back on the ice or not, they need to play their respective roles and work together. Yes, sounds trivial, but if you watched the last few games you'd know that the defense has been out of position a lot and everyone has been turning the puck over. Errey says it best, sometimes you just need to grind a goal out and get it. This is exactly what they did when Kunitz made it 1-0 last night.
Since I'm writing this earlier than the projected lines are coming out, I'm guessing Geno will sit this game as well and the lines will pretty much remain the same. No, I don't plan on editing it after the do either, you'll likely know from twitter anyway. I anticipate Fleury being back after being pulled following the fourth goal. He had to be pulled. Anytime your goalie gets down, you pull him, whether its his fault or not. It's all about confidence.
Now there was some line juggling last night, but primarily we saw the following:
- Weather the Emotions: An absolute must if you're going to keep your head in the game and your mind on the ice.
- Forecheck: This is one of the Penguins stengths, though it must be done without sacrificing being out of position.
- Puck Management: Two big turn overs last night led to two goals, one a shorty. The game was 4-2 near the end, you tell me how well the penguins play when the game is tied.
- Back to the Basics: Seemed to me the reason guys were out of position and turning the puck over was because each of them were trying to do too much. They need to do each of their own natural responsibilities well, then go above the call of duty after that has been established.