GAME THREE – Penguins 4, Senators 2: Pens’ New “Give A Shit” Initiative Proves Effective

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:

I was initially furious over Andy Sutton not getting a penalty for his hit on Jordan Leopold; watching the replay on Versus reminded me of when NFL refs don’t throw a flag for Pass Interference on a play, and when they show the replay, the announcer has made up his mind beforehand that he’s going to support the ref’s call no matter what, and as you’re watching the really obvious interference happen on the replay, the announcer’s saying “Kinda close one there, but it’s a good non-call by the official” and your eyes and ears can’t reconcile the disparity between what they’re seeing and hearing and your nose starts bleeding a little then your head explodes. You know what I’m talking about, right?

The Leopold hit was the same way — the announcer kept saying how Sutton kept his hands at his sides, then every replay just kept showing from every possible angle Sutton’s elbow going right into Leopold’s head, SUPER deliberately, and yet, the announcers appeared unable to see the reality occurring right in front of our eyes, nor could the refs, and nor could Colin Campbell upon reviewing the hit for a possible fine or suspension. This initially pissed me off, as do most things when they challenge my conception of facts and reality, but the more I thought about the situation — and with no disrespect towards the health of Leopold — I drew two positives out of the situation that theoretically outweigh the benefits of a potential penalty call:

Good Thing One: Andy Sutton has played terribly since that hit, and has been almost directly responsible for 3 Penguin goals, including screening Brian Elliott on Letang’s Game Two winner. If Sutton had been ejected or suspended, the Senators would’ve been forced to play/dress someone less terrible, and the outcome of either game might’ve been altered.

Good Thing Two: The Sutton non-call gives us Pens fans automatic go-to retaliation ammunition should the Penguins advance deeply into the playoffs and naysayers again try to point out that the league has a conspiracy to get Sidney Crosby more prominent exposure (which is true, of course, even though Pittsburgh’s market is one one-trillionth the size of New York’s, Toronto’s, Chicago’s, L.A.’s, etc. and the league stands to benefit far more in terms of merchandise if different teams have success and maybe Crosby’s teams advance because Crosby’s pretty good at hockey and I could go on but these parenthesis are giving me the light so I need to wrap it up – goodnight!)

So I take back the barrage of swear words I unleashed at Andy Sutton and the refs and announcers who were blind to the reality in front of their eyes. I am admittedly no “expert” in seeing things right in front of me, but I am an expert in noticing how big of a liability Andy Sutton is on defense, and as such, I’d like to issue an apology to the league – Great non-suspension call, NHL! Is there any way you can go the extra mile and actually require Sutton to play even more?

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