Thursday, March 26, 2009
So what changed?
A few weeks ago on the verge of an epic collapse, I wrote a blog about our favorite Pittsburgh Penguins. In the blog I was questioning if they would make the playoffs and wondering just what the hell was wrong with them. I gave a few suggestions on what they needed to do to get back on track. If you don't remember the blog you can read it here. It turns out I am more of a super genius than Mark Madden because my suggestions were spot on. Lets go over them shall we?
Step one was to get an identity as a team and a coach who is a motivator who is likable and will get down to the basics and not switch up lines all the time.
Step one, Check.
The pens have done just that. They dropped the attempts to play a defensive game. They are aggressive and it is paying off with an offence like the pens have and defencemen like Letang and Gonchar who can score both the offence and defence have gotten better. Fluery is not facing as many shots because the pens are controlling the zone. Dan Blysma has been just what the Lemieux Group LP ordered. He is a young guy who can relate to the players but has been around the game a long time and has a style of play that really fits this club. He seems to be doing nothing wrong and the team has rallied around him and really played a better more fitting style of hockey. Blysma said it best on inside penguins hockey the other day. Hockey is a game of mistakes. If you are playing the majority of the game in the opposing teams zone when you make a mistake the negative outcome from that mistake won't lead to much other than a possession change or something small. If your opponent makes a mistake in their own zone, you can generate great opportunities to put the puck in the net. The pens have bought into that philosophy and it is showing with only one game in the month of march without bringing home at least a point.
Step two was to get rid of Ryan Whitney and Satan and bring in a winger for Crosby.
Step Two, Check.
They got rid of that bum Ryan Shitney and picked up my man, Chris Kunitz. Now not only is his name very similar to another Pittsburgh legend Rusty Kuntz, he has been a perfect fit for this team. We have him for a few more years which is also a plus. He is the winger Crosby needed, a guy with good skill and hockey sense who is tough and will park his ass right in front of the net and put home the trash. Alongside that we dropped Satan down to Wilkes-Barre so we didn't take that cap hit and we brought in another veteran leader in Bill Guerin. Now our first line is playing like the first line, our second line is playing like a first line and hell our third line is playing like a first line alternate. Jordan Staal has really emerged as the player I knew he was from the start for a while people were hating on Staal but you can't argue with his production over the past few weeks. But the biggest plus for this time was ditching Shitney.
It has been exciting to watch this team return back to premier form over the past month. As it stands now it looks like they will storm into the playoffs on a high note and lets see if they can keep it up and make it back to the Cup Finals. Maybe this time Malkin won't shit all over himself in the playoffs.