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Playoff Push: 5 Things Pens Need to Do Now
Posted by MattyGabe at 3:29PM on 1-26-09

" SCST's own MattyGabe runs through a list of 5 things the Penguins must do in order to secure a spot in the upcoming NHL Playoffs for 2009."

  At the time of writing, the Penguins stand at 23-21-4 (50pts), which is good enough for 10th place in the East (behind Florida, 50pts + 2 games played and Carolina, 51pts).

It's not all gloom and doom for the Penguins, as they are still in the hunt. They, however, control their destiny and must make sure to do a couple things in order to favorably control that destiny:

1. Play a consistently hard-working game from the drop of the puck to the third period buzzer.
The Penguins are, unfortunately, infamous for their late third-period rallies where they (occasionally) come back from deficits to win games or force overtimes. The Penguins can NOT survive the competition in the East if they continually rely on their young stars to grab some goals late in the game. They need to put their noses to the grind stone and work hard the entire game. I've seen a couple players (not to name any names) that lackadaisically skate on the ice without applying much effort, and they make poor decisions such as no-look drop passes. Too many turnovers, too many pointless passes, not enough shots.

2. Find reliable auxiliary scoring
Having Crosby, Malkin and Sykora on the team for their goal-scoring abilities is something any team would love to have, however if they're the only ones putting the puck in the net it's difficult to raise the winning percentage above 50% (and even harder against the better teams in the league). Guys like Miroslav Satan, Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Staal need to consistently chip in their portions. If you have two or three ways to score goals, chances are other defenses will figure out how to block them.

3. Keep Fleury healthy
The swap of Sabourin for Garon was a good one, but Fleury will remain another pillar holding up the Pens' chances of another postseason berth. Not only is his health important, but he needs to be on top of his game night in and night out. Until the defensemen can consistently run breakouts that don't result in neutral zone turnovers, and until the forwards can then transition into the offensive zone forecheck, Fleury must continue to stand on his head to help keep goals down for this struggling team.

4. Maintain and Build Confidence
A wishy-washy requirement to be sure, but important nonetheless. Confidence for young players is not quantifiable nor is it easy to gauge, but it's something Therrien's staff MUST manage well. Confidence results in creative, effective passing that leads to smart point-getting shots and a nearly unstoppable forecheck. Many of the aforementioned turnovers (blind passes) are due to a deadly mix of creativity with low confidence (from the mindset of, "We need a few goals, so let's get creative. Nothing we've done so far has worked." ) Making smart plays that also have a high success rate come first before creativity, not the other way around.

Skilled playmakers tend to want to pass the puck more than putting it on net. While that's fine in a normal setting, you must also realize that that normal setting also usually has a playmaker sandwiched on sniper bread (think Crosby playing on a line with a left and right Petr Sykora clones). This player has a few snipers on the team, most popular of them is of course Sykora, the team more often than not tends to defer to passing instead of slamming it towards the net. Most frustrating in this aspect: the powerplay. A few times clear shooting lanes were ignored in order to pass to another area, with hopes of an even better shooting lane. This is equivalent to having three-of-a-kind in your hand, but throwing it away in hopes of getting a flush or full-house instead (possible, yes, but likely, no).

MattyGabe's Fearless Forecast: Pens barely clinch 8th place going 17-12-5 for the remainder of the season and finishing with 89pts.

What's your Fearless Forecast for the Pens this season? Post yours in the comments below.

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Member #: 11
Total Posts: 6

Posted at 2:53AM on 4-21-09 (Last edited at 2:54AM on 4-21-09)

well at the time i guess i can't say i blame the prediction.... but you should always have faith haha





Member #: 1
Total Posts: 273

Posted at 8:57AM on 4-22-09

Post by wildebeest34 at 2:53AM on 4-21-09
"well at the time i guess i can't say i blame the prediction.... but you should always have faith haha "

Yeah, I was about 10pts behind on this prediction, thanks to a couple of the Penguins' rallies under Bylsma.

But, I would also tell you to look at those points again, because all five of them were pretty much executed well in all three games the Penguins won against the Flyers, and were slack on during the loss in Game 3. They played from the first faceoff to the last in Game 4, found some aux scoring, Fleury was ridiculously good, etc.

Some may say those points are way to generalized, but I beg to differ.


"If sloth were an industry, I'd be General Motors." --Vincent van Gui  



Member #: 12
Total Posts: 184

Posted at 10:30AM on 4-22-09

Yes... and it seems some things never change... such as "SHOOT THE PUCK, SHOOT THE PUCK !!!"
And I will agree that those points to winning remain valid, and when the Pens did NOT do that in game 3, it resulted in a loss. Many of the games they lost during the regular season was a direct result of them NOT playing the full 60 minutes.





Member #: 1
Total Posts: 273

Posted at 11:42AM on 6-10-09

And I think that in the Stanley Cup Finals, point #1 is still the utmost importance for the Penguins. Every game that they work their tail off from the drop of the puck to the final buzzer is usually the games they win. They can't be lax here against the 'Wings... Gotta take it to 'em in Game 7.


"If sloth were an industry, I'd be General Motors." --Vincent van Gui  


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