Heading into the playoffs, I proposed that the outcome of the Pens/Ottawa series would depend entirely on two simple yet excruciating questions -
Question #1: Will the Penguins resume giving a shit? And…
Question #2: Will Fleury play well? Not “not-retardedly”, I mean, actually “well”?
In Game One, Question 1 was a “kinda” and Question 2 was a resounding “Mother Of Everything Holy No”, and the result was an unsurprising-in-hindsight 5-4 Senators victory.
In Game Two, Question 2 began on shaky ground when Fleury let in a wrist shot from Carson Street .3 seconds into the game — but SHAME SHAME on you for questioning Fleury ever, you un-knowledgable peasants, even though he’s played crappy for most of the last four months and directly cost the Pens Game One – he won a Cup and is thus absolved from any wrongdoing until the end of time — but the Pens responded to Question 1 so forcefully, they essentially eliminated any further need for Question 2 by totally shutting down Ottawa offensively (except for one wide-open Jason Spezza chance from the slot, on which he missed the net). The Penguins won 2-1, outshooting Ottawa 31-20.
In Game Three, the Pens answered Question 1 with another resounding “Yes”, getting an early boost from a weak Alexei Ponikarovsky goal, and though Ottawa was again limited in terms of chances, Fleury played pretty well (the first Ottawa goal was on Brooks Orpik for leaving Mike Fisher alone in the nation of Canada, and the second goal was standardly “meh” on Fleury’s part, but the game was basically in hand by then). Penguins 4, Senators 2. Again, exactly the outcome you’d expect from those particular answers.
And so I again add, until the Pens play a team that’s better than them on paper — and really, that’s only Washington and a couple Western teams — their playoff fate will continue to be completely dictated by how convincingly they can answer these two questions. Two “Yes”es, and they win, two “No”s, and they lose, and if it’s one-and-one, it’s going into Overtime and can go either way (unless either the “Yes” or the “No” is followed by an exclamation point, in which case, it’ll probably tip the game in favor of that outcome).
There you have it. Hockey analysis just doesn’t get more in-depth than this. Also, Sidney Crosby’s pretty good.
After the jump, my thoughts on the Sutton non-suspension: