During the morning of game 4 of the series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers, I am sitting here and feeling mixed emotions about the whole ordeal. Having been a Pens fan for over 20 years, there is no positive that I can draw on from this series in any way at this point.
There is A LOT of blame to go around but I am going to key in on a few key areas that I feel the team has been terrible and trust me……there are quite a few to choose from. Let’s “Rant!”
The lack of defense and the poor play of Marc-Andre Fleury is mind numbingly perplexing. This has been the deepest defensive core the team has had since they won in 2009 and Fleury is coming off of a career regular season in which he tied Tom Barrasso for most wins in a single season.
We have witnessed the defensive aspect of the team implode. When the team scores 4 to 5 goals a game, it should be enough to win but the Pens have found new ways to prove me wrong on that. Ben Lovejoy has been exposed but he is not alone as it has been a free trip to the net when ever the Flyers have wanted it.
Previously Fleury had a knack for making the big save to turn the game around, but this series he is developing a knack at letting in terrible goals that have turned the game around for his team. Fleury is better than this and needs to be better than this for his team to win.
The NHL’s leading scorer, a 50 goal scorer and possible NHL MVP has not been seen in this series. Has anyone seen him? Now before everyone yells at me and says he has assists in the series, this is true but they are all from power play time and that is when you should be racking up points.
Malkin has not asserted himself into the series up until this point. He is capable of taking over a game by himself with his talent but he seems reluctant to play through the checking of the rookie center that has been tasked with stopping him. He seems to be more reactionary right now than proactively dictating the play.
Geno is at his best when he plays with a rough edge and has a spur under his saddle but he hasn’t displayed any real fire in his play. If the Pens do not want to be swept tonght, then they need him to step it up and be the Geno that dominated this season.
The way that the Pens are resulting to scrums in every game is hurting the team more than helping them. This need to mix it up should be channelled to the need to play a tighter defensive game. I have no issue with the team sending a message once in awhile but it is getting to a “Benny Hill” level of absurd.
This is NOT what I think of when I think of Pittsburgh Penguins hockey. The team is playing with such complete reckless abandon that they seemed more eager to start a scrum than score or stop a goal.
There is a serious lack of leadership right now in the Penguins locker room. It starts with the head coach, travels through the assistant coaches, the captain and alternate captains and ends in every player who pulls that jersey over their head each game. This is a serious issue.
I have no idea how Dan Bylsma could leave Fleury in goal as long as he have when he has been struggling so badly. I am a HUGE fan of Flower but it can’t help his mind set and confidence to feel like he is exposed out there on the ice. As well, I know he is “the guy” between the pipes for the team but sometimes even “the guy” needs protection and help from his coaching staff.
Someone needs to get this group of players under control as there is no one at the helm of the ship right now and it is showing. There is a complete lack of respect for not just their opponents but also themselves and their fans.
I know some people would say “Why should we respect the Flyers, when they don’t respect us?” The answer to that is simple. The Pens are not the Flyers but you know what, you wouldn’t know that from how they are acting. This series has been embarrassing.
I am a huge Penguins fan and have been cheering for the team for as long as I remember but I am also realistic enough to look at what is happening right now with my favorite team. My sister’s boyfriend Paul and I have talked about the issues, as we are both Pens fans, but we also know that there is no way to justify what is happening.
Being a fan gives you the right to cheer and also to question what is going on with the team. It allows you to voice concern and also dissect the team. There are times to believe things are ok and they will “snap back” but then are also times when you need to accept what is going on.
The team as it is right now is a mess that has imploded and no one seems to know how to change that. Can they get it figured out to not be swept and maybe…..just maybe try to salvage this series?
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