April 27, 2008

Pens-Rangers Game 2 Thoughts

2-0 and far from over.

There were 9 goals in Game One on Friday. You knew both teams were going to clamp down this afternoon and it showed. The Penguins and Rangers tightened up in the box and tried to keep the shots out to the points and not in slot.

Now the series shifts to Madison Square Garden, also known as a house of horrors for Pittsburgh. The Pens were winless in four trips to New York this season, but as we've seen so far, the regular-season does not matter. As much as Pittsburgh enjoyed the home ice, the crowd in New York City will be intense and loud. The Rangers will no doubt feed off of the home crowd and have a "backs against the wall" mentality on Tuesday night. As long as the Penguins can take the crowd out of it, maybe with an early goal, they'll have a good chance to succeed.

Other thoughts that my brain processed during Game Two:

-How many times did Mike Emerick refer to Sidney Crosby as Jarko Ruutu? I know it might be tough to differentiate a 37 from an 87, but one time he misspoke on a Penguin power-play.

-Are the Marc-Andre Fleury doubters shutting up? He's looked tremendous since his return from a high-ankle sprain. Fleury's positioning and most importantly, rebound control is what's keeping his team winning.

-I was weary about the Hal Gill/Rob Scuderi pairing on Friday. Today, I've changed my mind. They played physical and tough, especially along the boards. Scuderi is definitely an underrated defenseman on the Pittsburgh blueline.

-Hopefully there will be less bitching from the Ranger faithful about diving and more concern for their power-play. New York was 1-3 in Game One and 0-6 today, including a man-advantage late in the third period. They dominated on face-offs winning 37 of 57, but managed only 26 shots, with the amount decreasing each period.

-Remember that guy Atlanta threw in in the Marian Hossa deal? Yeah, Pascal Dupuis? What an animal today. He was all over the ice and did a tremendous job on the penalty-kill. He brings such energy to the lineup and he compliments a guy like Max Talbot well.

-Good to see Sean Avery finally involved, too bad for New York it was after the final buzzer. I'm very surprised to see he's not involved more in scrums and getting under the skin of Penguin players. Could it be he feels the refs are keeping a closer eye on him and might be quick to call a penalty?

-The no-call goal on Marty Straka was a good call. Referees are instructed to blow their whistles when they either lose sight of the puck or feel the goalie has it covered well. This call happens all the time in games. Of course, it happened against the Rangers today, so there will be some moaning about that. Even Tom Renney said it was a good call in his post-game press conference. He said he heard the whistle before any sort of goal indication.

-If this playoff is truly a game that Gary Bettman is playing, then why did Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals lose in the first-round? A win would have setup a dream Sidney-Alex match-up in round two. Also, I'm no television executive, but I would think a Stanley Cup Final involving the Rangers would draw a better rating in the US than the Penguins, you know, because New York is the largest television market in America.

-One of the biggest reasons for the Penguins success so far has been their depth. The third and fourth liners give the top two lines nothing to worry about when they take a much needed rest. Guys like Talbot, Ruutu, Tyler Kennedy, Adam Hall and Georges Laraque do a fantastic job of containing the opposing forwards and keeping the puck deep. Teams who win Stanley Cup's always have a great depth.

-Marian Hossa needs to score on that breakaway early on. That's why the Pens got him. He's had his chances in the two series so far. If Hossa is truly the sniper he's advertised as, he needs to capitalize on those opportunities.

Tuesday night could be the series.

Let's Go Pens!

Ballhype: hype it up!

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