GAME ONE: Capitals 3, Pens 2 — Hope Everyone Got Their Random Moment Of Horrible Out Of Their Systems

Apologies for the lack of updates, I was out of town this weekend, and whenever I’m pinched for blogging time I ultimately give preference to the website that actually pays me.

Because I’m sure you twenty people or so were dying for them, here are my Pens/Caps Game One thoughts:

– I’m not sure why everyone assumed Simeon Varlamov would be a liability for the Caps. He allowed 7 goals in 6 games against the Rangers, and yes, they’re the Rangers and scored 54 fewer goals than the Penguins during the regular season (albeit without Nik Antropov and Sean Avery most of the year), but that still means Varlamov allowed fewer than half the goals Marc-Andre Fleury let in against the Flyers in the same number of games. I see absolutely no reason to automatically assume that the on-and-off Fleury is some massive advantage over a goalie no one knows anything about.

Brooks Orpik offers this tidbit of well-meaning nonsense:

“I think you can [rattle a young goaltender],” Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “The kid played pretty well in the first round, but he probably wasn’t challenged the way we’re going to challenge him.”

Watch out, Simeon, cause “Back o’ the Net” Brooks is gunning for you! Seriously though, I realize Orpik is saying that the Pens’ offense is superior to the Rangers’ and I agree with him in principle, but the Pens managed to test Martin Biron for about two and half total periods in the six-game Flyers series. Is anyone actually confident that the no-traffic, no-rebounds Pens will “rattle” Varlamov and throw him off his game and send him crying back to the bench, just like 21-year-old rookie Cam Ward when he was “rattled” in the 2006 postseason on his way to winning the Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Rookie goalies aren’t automatic liabilities, they’re simply unknown quantities; yes, an occasional Carey Price may completely fold, but did anyone else see Martin “Mr. Experience” Brodeur cost his team Game 7 against the Hurricanes by allowing two identical far-side wrist shots including one with thirty seconds remaining in regulation? Experience is a helpful characteristic for a goaltender, but it doesn’t supersede simply playing well. If the Pens don’t test Varlamov, then his proneness to being rattled is irrelevant.

– The power play = My Lord. There are no negative words remaining in the English language that we haven’t used in conversations about the Pens’ power play this season, and I’m running out of creative hyphenated swear word combinations (there’s only so many). If the Pens don’t start giving a crap and battling for pucks with the man advantage the way they do 5-on-5, and Bylsma continues to leave Malkin, Crosby and Gonchar out for full 2-minute shifts, this garbage will continue. My brother was watching the game on a slight delay on DVR, and admitted that by the third period, he was literally fast-forwarding the Pens’ power plays rather than bear to watch.

– Remember how awesome Chris Kunitz was in the first two periods of Game 1 against Philly? He’s gotten progressively dumber with the puck ever since then, and has been a nonfactor for about the last 18 periods of the postseason. Ditto Guerin since his Game 2 overtime winner.

Sergei Gonchar hasn’t totally reverted back to “who is this human and why is he attempting the sport of hockey” form from his first year with the Pens, but he’s been mostly awful this postseason, both offensively and defensively, and has to shoulder as much of the blame for the power play as anyone else. If he doesn’t start battling in the defensive zone and playing with some urgency and confidence rather than just throwing skilled but pointless saucer passes around the neutral zone and opposing blue line, he’s a waste of ice time. Not that Brooks “should I cover the guy busting to the net or the guy hanging back in the slot who’s already covered – how about neither?” Orpik has had much more of a positive impact.

– Hard to blame Fleury for the outcome of this one, and the Caps probably would’ve scored on the 5-on-3 anyway, but why was he flopping out towards Alexander Semin at all, let alone before he even shot the puck? He was more overcommitted than a whiny female girlfriend stereotype in a Bud Light commercial (snap?)

– If I were the Pens, I’d definitely bank on Mark Eaton continuing to score every game. Absolutely no way this will stop.

– Did anyone else watch Game 2 of Bruins/Hurricanes? Both of those teams looked embarrassingly better than both the Pens and Caps did in their first meeting.

– Because I didn’t feel confident picking the Ducks, Blackhawks, or Hurricanes in their respective series, and definitely didn’t want to just predict all 4 favorites advancing, I was going to predict Pens over the Caps in 6 on Friday but didn’t have the time to put a post together. I guess I’ll stick with that prediction now. Also, dammit.

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One Response to “GAME ONE: Capitals 3, Pens 2 — Hope Everyone Got Their Random Moment Of Horrible Out Of Their Systems”

  1. AD Says:

    Can’t wait to see your thought on Game 2. Hopefully a few sentences will have the words “Dupuis” “Gonchar” and “fucking suck donkey cock” in them, not necessarily in that order. Or actually, hopefully in that order. Also, Max Talbot does not deserve superstar treatment…chikka chikka.

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