Returning from the all-star break, there were questions floating around about possible rust on the team and the returning forwards. Would we instantly be better with all the players healthy or would it sour the mojo that our patchwork quilt of reserves and only slightly injured players had been building?
Read the official recap here.
While the rangers were trying to feed off the energy of the returning Callahan. Bylsma's $h*tbirds were trying invoke the spirit of Crosby and Malkin (who were probably at home engaged in a Halo deathmatch). It seemed to be working Marc Andre Fleury managed to wander outside the small blue patch in front of him and hit the ice after ranger player brushed by him. Jordan Staal managed to do his part by suckerpuching Brandon Prust while in a scrum and sullying the family name. After all, it wouldn't be a Penguin team without at least one cheapshotting douchebag known for his scoring, to jump and unsuspecting player in an effort to lead his team by example. (Stall got a match penalty and a 1 game suspension)
In the first period, during the usual Vs. fanfare, They managed to pull Tortorella away from important stuff like coaching in order to do an interview. His response to the euphoria of the interviewer over scoring the first goal against the media hyped, league hyped, vs. hyped Pittsburgh hockey Juggernaut, was simply "I dont think we're playing that well and the score is deceiving... They're making too many long passes and we're not taking away enough space in the neutral zone..." Boy was he ever right. Attribute it to rust, returning players, or fear of penguin team (what vs. would love to have you believe at the leagues request).. but our Defense was G*ddamn atrocious. Players not getting their sticks down, missing coverage, weak and lackadaisical switching off. Creating just enough holes for players to shoot without paying for it and wristing shots from far off distances. It was a see saw battle back and forth for 3 periods because we allowed it to be. We didn't shut down this team and we didn't commit to a plan. Instead a mixed batch of players were sent out on the ice as if they needed to evaluated all over again and our offense seemed to be adlibbed as the game progressed. Rushing to get up ice and attempts at low percentage passes to Gaborik without first drawing the attention elsewhere; Scampering in errant directions and trying to chip the puck up ice. Our game last night was one dimensional and our apprehension showed in overtime as we wasted time volleying the puck between d-men in our own zone rather than moving the puck up ice. Only slightly more anti-climactic were the pedestrian shots taken by our shootout selections. With all the success guys like Wolski and Zuccs have been having the shootouts with fancy stick work, the feeling last night was "who wants to be typecast as a dangler...? Kids stuff". It was indeed a let down for the returning Lundqvist who must have been hoping for an easy night after playing against the best players in the world while most of the rest of the team had the week off.
Ref Reality check- No Vs. Broadcast would be complete without idiotic commentary, annoying announcers and watching Sean Avery take a blind side hit without a ref's acknowledgement, but somehow the same officials manage to exponentially inflate Newbury brushing by Fleury outside of the crease into a full blown elbowing call. Fortunately "hockey Lives on Versus" because calls like this, will have it dying everywhere else.
And for the sake of all that is Friggin right with the world, can someone explain the link between chemistry and linemates to our coach. Is it so hard just to make substitutions for the injured guys and let them try to fill a role? I feel like i'm being haunted by the Tom Renney Line changer...
Gabby - Drury (till Christiensen comes back)- Avery
Zuccs- Stepan- Wolski
Prust - Boyle - (Newbury... till Fedotenko comes back)