In all honesty, a sweep would’ve been ideal for the Penguins. With the Maple Leafs somehow giving the Capitals a run for their money, last night was the perfect opportunity for the Pens to wrap things up with the Blue Jackets and give the guys some rest before going into Round 2. But no. It’s simply not that easy to steamroll a team that had 108 points in the regular season four straight games. It’s just too tall of a task even for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
No Penguin fan should be worried in the slightest bit about this series, though. It’s already in the bag for all I’m concerned. The Pens will eventually match the desperation of the Blue Jackets sooner or later. What we should be worried about, though, are these horrendous first periods. Out of 17 goals scored so far this series, only 2 have come in the first period. And on top of that, they’re getting badly outshot in the process (27 to 56 through four games). Besides for last night, these shitty first periods haven’t really affected the Pens, but mark my words, this will come back to bite them if they continue pulling this type of crap in rounds to come. You can’t always rely on your resilience in the second and third periods alone when you run into a hot goaltender in the playoffs. Sooner or later, they’re going to need to play all three periods if they want to repeat.
That leads me to potential worry #2. Yes, the defense played horrible in game 4, but so did Marc Andre Fleury. After stopping 70 of 72 shots in Games 1 and 2, Fleury has only stopped 62 of 71 in his past two games. A lot can be blamed on the Penguins’ defense, but it’s also inexcusable to give up goals like this in the playoffs:
Look, I get that Fleury is a great person and all (Fleury fans love to point that out), but there’s really no argument for the fact that he simply isn’t as good of a goaltender as Matt Murray. Stats aside, Matt Murray doesn’t get rattled like Marc Andre Fleury. For whatever reason, Murray has a keen ability to forget about his poor performances and turn the page quickly. Fleury, on the other hand, is an emotional wreck that seems to play worse the moment shit hits the fan.
So there you have it, better first periods and a healthy Matt Murray. Those are the two keys to success for the Penguins going forward. And oh yeah, a healthy Carl Hagelin wouldn’t hurt, either. An HBK reunion will definitely put some lead in your pencil.
P.S. – I really hope Nick Foligno is okay after taking that vicious high stick last night.
If you would be so kind, please send your #Prayers4Nick.