Playoff Thoughts: Game 2 vs Senators

Semifinals Game 2: Pens 4 Sens 3

Pens Lead Series 2-0

Crosby (4) from Martin, Niskanen
Crosby (5) from Kunitz, Letang
Crosby (6) (PP) from Letang, Malkin
Morrow (1) from Neal, Martin

| TPN Recap |

Stat Leaders

Shots: Iginla (8)
Missed Shots: Niskanen (3)
Blocked Shots: Sutter (5)
Hits: Kunitz & Morrow (4)
Takeaways: Malkin, Martin & Sutter (2)
Giveaways: Crosby (2)
Ice Time: Martin (26:14) … Engelland (8:49)
Faceoffs: Sutter (9/16) … Malkin (3/10)

The Good

Sidney Crosby hat trick

Just another day in the life of Sidney Crosby. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Sidney Crosby: I think it’s safe to say this one is pretty self-explanatory.  Crosby had a hat trick under his belt just two minutes into the second period and finished the game with 3 goals on 6 shots.  Among his shortcomings (yes, he has them occasionally) were 2 giveaways and a 10/23 performance in the faceoff circle.  Between the 3 goals, and also drawing 2 penalties (one for holding and one for high sticking), what more could you ever want from your captain though?  After all, he is the smartest man in hockey.

Paul Martin: Martin looks vastly superior in comparison to the rest of the Penguins defense at this point.  He had 2 assists, 3 blocked shots, and 2 takeaways as he led the team with 26:14 of ice time.  The only mistake he made was on the penalty kill, where he stayed a little too far back from Alfredsson and Turris on the first goal against.  That one play aside, Martin really played perfect hockey in all 3 zones and continues to be the Penguins most reliable defenseman.

Brandon Sutter: Sutter played his best game of the playoffs in a very quiet manner against Ottawa.  He didn’t do too much offensively, but he led the team with 5 blocks, had 2 takeaways, and went 9/16 to lead the team in faceoffs.  He also drew a slashing penalty in the defensive zone and just looked strong overall in coverage at the points and in the slot.  Even if Sutter isn’t producing, that’s exactly the type of game that the Penguins want from their 3rd line center.


Tomas Vokoun pads stacked

Vokoun did his best Brodeur impression in stopping a breakaway. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Evgeni Malkin: Geno probably had his best defensive game in terms of coverage and making smart decisions, but also showed a few inconsistencies as well.  He was wonderful in reading breakouts with 2 takeaways and had some very smart slides towards the puck carrier, but he wasn’t quite as good once the puck was settled down.  Geno was partially at fault for the 3rd goal against as he peeled off of Pageau by the net.  He also took a bad hooking penalty in the offensive zone.  On the other hand, he drew a boarding penalty and made a smart play trailing a breakaway on Vokoun.  There’s always plenty of good with plenty of bad for Geno.

Tomas Vokoun: Vokoun looked shakier in Game 2 than Game 1 as he made 19 saves on 22 shots.  The first goal he allowed was bad as Turris had no shooting angle but the puck went off of Vokoun and in the net.  The second goal wasn’t bad necessarily, but certainly stoppable as Vokoun couldn’t move his glove quick enough to stop Greening’s shot.  The third goal was just a complete mess with a pile up around the net and Vokoun was caught out in front of the crease.  However, he also stopped multiple breakaways when the Penguins needed him the most. Was his performance bad enough to lead to a goaltending change?  I’ll get more into that below.

Jarome Iginla: Iginla had a rather frustrating game to watch.  He had a team high 8 shots and played 6:09 on the powerplay alone, but was somehow unproductive with all of that.  He was absolutely robbed by Lehner on a 2 on 1 where he might have relaxed a little on the shot.  He also didn’t have his best defensive game as he got knocked off the puck and turned it over on the 3rd goal against.  There will be more on Iginla later as well.

The Bad

Deryk Engelland Sens

This may have been the last game this series you will see Engelland. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Deryk Engelland: In a team low 8:49 on the ice, Engelland was partially at fault for 2 goals against and contributed in basically no other way in the game.  The Engelland-Murray pairing is a fun idea at home, but MacLean is even finding ways to take advantage of that matchup when he doesn’t have the last line change, so that’s a future disaster waiting to happen.  Engelland’s limited ice time is also an issue because it puts more stress on the other defensemen, which in the course of a series can be damaging.  Engelland’s play combined with Bylsma’s clear lack of trust in him as the game went on probably means Engelland will be in a suit for Game 3.

Misc. Thoughts

Positioning: The Iginla RW/LW conversation has been discussed to death and I personally think he’s capable of playing either side perfectly fine, but his powerplay positioning is a new question.  Iginla was a stud on the left point late in the season and early in the playoffs, but has been featured on the right point the past 2 games and has also been used down low.  It appears he has actually played every PP spot except for left point in this series through 2 games.  While the rw/lw issue is at a standstill because there are other guys who take priority in those positions, there is a big missed opportunity in not using Iginla at the left point.

Vokoun Fleury

Fleury may have inched a little closer to the crease after Game 2. (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Goalie Situation: The ongoing drama continues of who should start each game.  Vokoun was definitely shaky in Game 2 and I think that certainly opens the door for Fleury…but not to start in Game 3.  I would imagine that Vokoun continues to start until he takes a loss, but the Game 2 display shortens the leash on Vokoun and starts to crack the door open for Fleury.  Until this game, Vokoun could have probably had a very shaky start in the first period and stayed in for the rest of the game.  Now, I think Bylsma will have a quicker trigger finger for using Fleury at the next opportunity.  The opportunity has not presented itself quite yet though.

Lineup: As mentioned above, it’s time to get Engelland out of the lineup.  Going on the road, it makes complete sense to insert Mark Eaton back into the lineup as a steady veteran presence with better positioning.  Eaton is less likely to get rattled in Ottawa and MacLean won’t have a slam dunk matchup to use against him.  On the offensive side, I would strongly consider putting Jokinen back into the lineup because all of the Penguins are less than spectacular on faceoffs in this series.  With that happening as Bylsma picks his line matchups, I imagine it will get worse in Ottawa.  I would probably make the Jokinen for Vitale switch going into Game 3, but I don’t know if Bylsma will even consider doing that since his forwards as a group are doing fine.

Sens Strategy: The Senators made their strategy very clear early in the game and it also very clearly backfired. Their goal was to get into everyone’s face – Letang’s, Malkin’s Orpik’s, etc, and get everyone riled up and caught up in the mental game that the Penguins usually fail at.  Not only did the Penguins resist for the most part, but the Sens got called for it and put the Penguins on 6 powerplays.  With a 2-0 series deficit now, Ottawa doesn’t have nearly the same leeway to get caught up in the physical or mental game and that should help the Penguins as they try to take complete control of this series.

Officiating: Shockingly, the officiating was inconsistent again.  Iginla had his stick broken in 2 and it wasn’t called.  Likewise, Orpik got away with quite a bit of “roughing” at times on the Senators.  So here’s a shamless plug of my article on Playoff Officiating.

Series Outlook: I shall caution you against getting too excited even though the Penguins have a 2-0 series lead.  The Penguins are supposed to have a 2-0 series lead; they won both of their home games.  Now the Sens will try to win both of their home games to even it up like they should.  One thing to note is the Senators were horribly outplayed in Game 2 on the road and their best players (Karlsson and Anderson) played their worst games, but they still only lost by 1 goal.  Even though the Penguins won, that is a moral victory for the Senators as they head back home and will certainly receive better games from those two players plus the return of Jason Spezza.  Game 3 is going to be quite a challenge.


+/- Assessment

1st Goal For (Crosby): + for

  • Niskanen – corrals the puck behind his net and draws a forechecker over before passing to Martin
  • Martin – pass the puck up to Crosby exiting the defensive zone
  • Crosby – skates the puck past Silfverberg, dekes around Karlsson, and beats Anderson 5-hole

1st Goal Against (Turris): – for

  • Malkin – in the box for a hooking penalty
  • Martin – is too far away to cover the Alfredsson/Turris passing lane or to get to Turris when he has the puck
  • Vokoun – can’t get down in his stance quick enough to stop a bad angle shot from the goal line

2nd Goal For (Crosby): + for

  • Kunitz – takes a loose puck on the boards (puck battle was won by Ottawa but moved up the boards to Kunitz) and skates it to center ice where he passes to Crosby, then crashes the net
  • Crosby – Puts the puck on net from a bad angle and has it go past Anderson who is partially playing the pass

3rd Goal For (Crosby): + for

  • Malkin – gets the faceoff win from Crosby and pasess the puck to Letang
  • Letang – passes the puck to Crosby
  • Crosby – skates in from the point and blasts a slapshot past Anderson

2nd Goal Against (Greening): – for

  • Engelland – gets beat to the outside by Greening

4th Goal For (Morrow): + for

  • Martin – steps up to slapshot a loose puck towards the net
  • Neal – deflects Martin’s original shot
  • Morrow – deflects Neal’s deflection past Lehner

3rd Goal Against (Pageau): – for

  • Iginla – gets knocked off the puck and turns it over
  • Engelland – gets tied up with Latendresse and doesn’t skate out to challenge Condra with the puck
  • Letang – also covers Latendresse and doesn’t go out to challenge Condra, blocks the shot, then loses the puck at this feet
  • Malkin – follows Pageau into the crease area but peels off of him instead of staying with him as Pageau knocks a loose puck in

Playoffs +/-:  Click here for the Playoffs +/- Spreadsheet