Archive for the ‘Talbot’ Category

The Next Level!

April 26, 2009
The last two Penguin games have been heart stoppers. It seemed that we forgot how to play our style of hockey. I was actually worried about the series simply because we let them take control. Then, out out nowhere, our hero emerged. Was he on the first line? Nope. Second line? Nope again. Third? Wrong again. It was our hometown favorite Max Talbot to the rescue. It is amazing what a simple fight can do for a team. And they want to take fighting out of hockey? This is the definition of why it needs to stay in!

In game five at home, we played great in the first period, out shooting the Flyers 15-5 and getting all kinds of chances. Unfortunately none went behind Biron. The spirits were down and the Flyers scored one more in the second and two in the third to clinch it. We were outplayed and outmaneuvered in the second two periods. We somehow forced ourselves out of that game. We let them win that battle. It was at home as well. It shouldn’t have happened. The battle we can lose, but not the War!

Game six started almost the same way, although we looked much better. The Flyers got two quick goals in the first though and one early in the second and it looked like game five all over again. I was scared to come back to Pittsburgh for game seven. I know how I felt last year when other teams were not able to close it out and forced into it. I felt that they weren’t Stanley Cup quality. That is just how my mind works. I feel if a team can’t close it out soon after going up three games to one or none, they won’t make it to the finals. I am glad the Pens didn’t give me that thought.

At 4:21 in the second period, we were down 3-0. Every minute before that mark in the second, we looked like we were done. We looked like we were going to lose and deservedly so. Then Max Talbot got on the ice and started talking to Daniel Carcillo, an ex-Penguin for Wilkes-Barre. He used to play with Max down there. Now, as far as fighting goes, you don’t typically fight when you are up 3-0, simply because you could possibly, win or lose, give the other team some momentum. When Max asked for the fight, Carcillo was hesitant even though he wanted to, but with some encouragement from the bench, he agreed. This was the best example of a player being a bonehead. Max may have been beaten in that fight, but what happened afterward with the team was nothing short of amazing.

In a matter of 14 seconds after the fight, Evgeni Malkin crashed the net and Ruslan Fedotenko push the puck in past Biron’s right pad. He finally broke the ice after a game and a half of not scoring. It also looked as if it broke Biron’s will to play on the level he had been previously. Before the period was up, we had Mark Eaton and Sidney Crosby scoring in a similar fashion, batting the puck out of mid-air into the net after a juicy rebound. If you do the math right, we tied it. If the Flyers truly deserved to win this one, they wouldn’t have let that tying goal in.

Just past two minutes into the third period the clincher happened. Malkin skated into the zone and it looked like he pushed their defense back, without actually touching anyone. He then had a nice little dish to Sergei Gonchar who wound up and fired his signature slap shot into the top left corner of the net. Biron didn’t have a prayer. They let the Penguins control the ice. That was all she wrote aside from the hard fought empty netter by Crosby in the end. We won the game and clinched the series, now we wait for our next opponent.

Now, back to fighting. I am a big proponent of fighting in hockey, but only a certain kind. This was it. It was the type that comes with passion and emotion. Now I have said that I didn’t like the ones right after the faceoff, but in this case, it was right. I guess it is circumstantial. What I mean is that when you send your heavyweight guy out that is know to be a fighter and the other team does as well, it isn’t an emotional fight. It is just their jobs and doesn’t have the same effect. Now, if the great hockey minds can figure out how to control the difference, that would make it great!
Just to let you know, Boston won its series as the first seed, so if the Rangers knock off Washington today, no matter what, Boston would face them and we would get whomever wins between New Jersey and Carolina. If the Rangers eventually lose the series against the Caps, then we would play Boston. I don’t care who we play, but think of this…the last two times we played Boston in the Conference Finals, we won and went on to win the Stanley Cup!

Let’s Go Pens!

Loving It!

February 20, 2009
How about them Pens!
Now, I didn’t love the two temporary comebacks from the Canadiens, but I did love the way we played. Malkin scored an incredible goal and Sykora scored a great goal, which is nothing out of the normal routine for them. The thing that wasn’t routine was the in front of the goal deflection by Satan, the crash the net goal by Talbot, and (the best one of all) Gonchar scoring a slapper from the point. It was like the good old Penguins. The 94th consecutive sellout was screaming like maniacs, almost like a playoff game.
“When we play a real good game you’ll see extended periods in the offensive zone,” Bylsma said. “It’s up-and-down hockey. It’s not run-down hockey we’re looking to play. We’re looking to play offensive zone time and repeatedly get shift after shift after shift where we can (pin) them in and gain the momentum that way.”

The differences I noticed between Therrian’s system and Bylsma’s system are as follows:

  1. On offense, the defense is chipping in and sometimes even going deep, even when it doesn’t look like their is a play developing. I saw on several occasions the defense were in deeper than a winger.
  2. On defense, the offense was backchecking and giving the defensemen room to move the puck and dig it out of the corners easier. This clogs up the opposing offense and doesn’t give them a clear possession. “From behind the bench I saw good things going on the offense, speed, going north-south quickly. I think what I was most pleased with was how I saw our forwards come back in a lot of situations. I think we lifted up sticks, about 10 or 12 times with our forwards coming back and tracking down their forwards.”-Bylsma
  3. On the power play, I really couldn’t pinpoint significant differences, all except for execution.
  4. On the penalty kill, I saw the defenders attacking the opposition, making nothing clean for the other team. With the exception of the 5 on 3, it worked perfectly and actually created some offense for us.
They seem to be subtle changes according to the players and the coaches, but it looked nothing like the team under Therrian. Not even last year’s team had this grit and tenacity. We took it to them hard and fast. The exciting thing is that this was under two days preparation. They will get another practice in tomorrow before the back to back games aginst the Flyers then the Capitals. I think these two games will be a huge statement to the seriousness of our resolve. If we truly want to get into the playoffs and make some noise, we need to win one, if not both these games. They are huge rivalry games and they are both on the rise.

“I told the players before the game, how you play is going to send a message to the fans and to the Canadiens in tonight’s game,” Bylsma said. “Our guys were focused. Our guys were ready to go. I think they had a clear understanding of what was at stake and how we wanted to play. While I said it wasn’t perfect, I think we sent the message nice and clear. This is a team where we think we can go and play aggressive and we were aggressive offensively more like we wanted to be, and it was a great message.”

I hope the other teams at the bottom of the standings that are within striking distance hear us loud and clear. I am really looking forward to the two games this weekend now.

“We were playing aggressive and took advantage of some good chances. It was a pretty high tempo, and that’s the way we want to play,” said Sidney Crosby, whose quick pass across the slot set up Malkin’s 26th goal. “We were reacting out there pretty well, but at the same time we still have a few kinks to work out.”

I completely agree…I can also see us getting a whole lot better too.

“It was not really deflating — yes, they were coming back but … I don’t think guys were worried, guys were still confident and nobody really had their head down going, ‘Here we go again,”‘ Talbot said. “Guys were ready to go again, we played with passion and desperation and got a big two points.”

“Yes, they came back but everybody on the bench said, ‘OK, we can still do this,'” Talbot said. “They came back and the game was tied, but we kind of knew we were going to win that game. The way we played all night, and guys were not worried like the way we have been in the last couple of months. If that game would have happened a couple of months ago, guys would have been like, ‘Oh, here we go again.’ But tonight the guys were upbeat and we knew we could win.”
I think this was the key quote for me in this game. It is completely unlike something our team would have said a couple months ago. As soon as I read it, I just smiled.

“It’s definitely a more fun way for us to play,” Orpik said. “It’s going to take time to get used to and we were a little sloppy at times, but I thought the work ethic was the best we’ve had in a while.”

“Matt Cooke got me the puck,” Bylsma said. “I told him he’s 10 favors for the coach away from getting in front of the net on the power play.”

“When you play a 60-minute game, the plan is to invest and to wear down and force them to play a pace that makes it hard to keep up for 60 minutes,” Bylsma said. “That’s why it’s a 60-minute game. So we kept playing the pace and we said after the second period, this is a team that played last night, we have to keep playing at that pace and keep attacking aggressively. We have to track back, don’t give them chances to get in the offensive zone. Our thought going out, if we can continue to play at the pace that we established for most of the first two periods, that we would have a good opportunity to get some chances to win the game.”

One thing I am really looking forward to is March 4th. There is a billion rumors running rampant in the league involving the Pens and everyone that is a winger. Keep your eyes and ears open. I watch pretty closely, so keep an eye on my twitter. That sounds serious..Ha Ha.

I believe that moving Therrian and his system out was the best thing for this team, even though he seems to have convinced the entire hockey world that he was the best thing since sliced bread. Good for him, he might get another head coaching job sooner this way.
I think this weekend is key. How we play this weekend will show the league we are back and ready to start defending our Eastern Conference Championship trophy. It may be late, but not too late. Remember, we are four points out of a playoff spot, but six points out of fifth place in the East. I like our position and our spot. It is the perfect time to get hot and roll into the playoffs.
Let’s Go Pens!

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