Fleury, Rest Of Pens, Have Rough Playoff Debut

wow. that was a tough game to watch. the pens got dominated in every aspect of the game, and fell to ottawa 6-3. that score doesnt even do the senators any justice. ottawa did lead 6-1, before gonchar and crosby added “confidence-booster” goals in the waning moments. therrien and the team had been quick to brush off the teams youth and inexperience, but had to face the music after this one was over. therrien accepted that his team was tight, and crosby felt the team was watching rather than setting the early tone. both were understatements. the senators clearly came out with more passion, and were able to leave their mark on the game from the drop of the puck. andrej meszaros scored 1:37 into the game, and chris kelly added a goal only 5 minutes later.
despite giving up 6 goals, i cant place the blame solely on maf. mark eaton tipped a shot that was easily picked up by ottawa for an easy goal. laraque’s intended drop pass to ruutu lead to a senators breakaway that resulted in an easy goal. the defense couldnt get the puck out of their own zone. the ottawa forwards were more physical than the pittsburgh defense. the pens couldnt handle simple passes and stick-handling maneuvers. daniel alfredsson was allowed to take hack after hack at the net, and the score would have been 10-3 if the ottawa captain quit missing the cage. ryan whitney struggled to a -2 rating. in case you dont get the point, i can keep going on about why the pens lost. maf looked nervous at the beginning, settled down for a bit, then imploded upon himself. as frustrated as i was, though, there were plenty more reasons for this loss rather than just the poor play of maf.
“apparent kicking motion.” remember those words. any chance of the penguins swinging game momentum last night was crushed by the “war room” in toronto, who disallowed sidney crosby’s goal in the opening moments of the 2nd period, which would have closed the ottawa lead to 4-2, after dany heatley scored only 15 seconds prior. colby armstrong crashed the net, and sid put the rebound past emery, thus revitalizing the pittsburgh bench. after talking to the “war room,” the refs disallowed the goal, because crosby’s sliding foot touched the puck before it scooted past emery. crosby took a legitimate shot with his stick, and was falling to his knees like he has done in the past. however, last night, crosby was right in front of emery, and wasnt trying to break his body in half as he crashed the net. he went from his knee to his butt, and the puck tipped the heel of his stick, hit his sliding foot, and went in. the thing that gets me, is we dont know if the “war room” has any bias against the kid. sid is legendary in the league for his lower body strength, and has been known to use his skates like 2 additional sticks. ive never seen a player protect a puck like crosby can, by passing the puck between his skates and his stick with such ease. if anyone in the “war room” (i cant stand that they call it that) has watched any of crosby in his first 2 seasons, they would know the kid’s abilities. i seriously hope that the geniuses in toronto didnt hold this against crosby while making their decision to disallow the goal. i understand “apparent kicking motion,” but sid actually took the shot with his stick, and as he was falling into the cage, his eyes were still focused on where the shot from his stick was supposed to go. “apparent kicking motion” is supposed to deter players from kicking pucks into the goal, not for overanalyzing a guy falling down while trying to make a legitimate shot. the pens beat the sens back in march after falling down 4-1, and crosby’s goal could have sparked the turnaround in this 4-1 game. instead, any momentum was gone once the ref waved the goal off (to steigy and errey’s surprise), and maf allowed 2 more goals before being benched for t-bo.
this is, in no way, critical of ottawa. they clearly won the game. they exerted their influence, and flat-out beat sid and company. hopefully the team can build off of the failures in game 1, and come out with more purpose on saturday.
nicholas

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