Monday, April 20, 2009

Penguins Playoff Notes- Petr Sykora, Where Have You Been?

Relax. Don't jump off a bridge just yet. The Penguins weren't going to win every playoff game. After winning the first two of the series, the Pens were dominated on Sunday by the Flyers. What went wrong? A lot, but it's all correctable.

As I noted before, the team that wins the special teams battle, will win the series. The Penguins must fix the power play. I know they have scored a power play goal every game, but they need more.The Pens have converted on 4 of 20 attempts in the series so far. Now 20% isn't terrible, but the Pens power play unit can be better. Three times so far, the Guins have taken penalties while on the power play and the killer was a short handed goal allowed. Your not gonna win many road games like that,.

On the other hand, the Penguins penalty kill has done fine. The Flyers have also scored a power play goal in each game, but are only converting at a 3 for 14 rate. The PK Unit must continue to play well, because the Flyers power play is very good and will score goals.

Matchups were a bit of a problem in game 3. The home team gets the last change, so Dan Bylsma will have to find creative ways to get Crosby and Malkin freed up from Richards and Carter. Also Bylsma shouldn't change much. The physical play has been there, but the Pens have to be careful not to burn all their emotion too early in the game. After the first ten minutes of play, the Pens were chasing the play, the rest of the game. When the Pens win, they dictate the play, they don't chase it.

Goaltending is not an issue, but the play in front of him is. For one of the first times in the Bylsma era, the pens made it very hard for Marc-Andre Fluery. Could he have made a couple of saves to prevent goals? Probably, but the Flyers were camped in the crease for most of the game. Their scoring opportunities came very easy. At the other end of the ice, just the opposite has been true. Games tow and three, the pens didn't make Biron work nearly enough. No traffic in front of him, no second chances. If the Pens up the intensity in front of the net at both ends, then they will be playing for a while.

The final piece that needs to get going is Petr Sykora. Now I love Petr, but the fact is that if he isn't scoring goals, then he isn't giving the team much. Now i know Sykora has been banged up, but he has to put up numbers. The second line wingers have not been producing, so in game 4 Petr Sykora will step up and score a big gaol and send the Pens home with a 3-1 series lead.

Like I said, no worries. Don't jump off that bridge just yet.

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