We can’t find any reason to hate the Blackhawks. And if you’re spewing hatred without having a legit reason, you’re getting close to jealousy territory. They are the model franchise in the league right now. They pounded the Penguins as professionally as you can. And Jonathan Toews rose to the challenge laid out by NBC’s marketing department. Just a business win for them, and a really shitty loss for the Penguins.
Before the Olympic break, the Penguins were the best team in the Eastern Conference. Now, only two and a half weeks later, it doesn't feel like that at all. The team looks tired and stale, almost as if they are now coming back to Earth after somehow keeping it all together. Did the Olympic break affect the focus? Not sure. Is this an overreaction after two games? No, not really. Excuses are nothing but explanations after the fact, and so there’s no pointing to the horrible playing conditions in this one. Both teams played in it. Find something else.
And ignore the standings and stats for a second. There is a critical problem with this team, and it lies with the third and fourth lines. The top two lines are as good as any team in league, even if Brian Gibbons still hasn’t made a play. But then things fall off a cliff. Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke — solid, dependable, consistent players — were replaced with fart sounds.
We were the first people that we know of to point out the lack of production from the Pens’ bottom lines this season, way back in early December. We recall being flamed off the Internet for it, being accused of spewing negativity, and being told that we hate the Penguins. Where is your god now?
This was the bottom six against the Blackhawks
Combined, they were a -10. If you don't like plus/minus, consider this: those six players played a combined total of about 54 minutes of 5-on-5. The Hawks generated 60 shot attempts in those 54 minutes. The Pens’ bottom six generated 32.
If the Pens lose in the playoffs, as they probably will, it will probably involve Crosby/Malkin having a few cold games (or Marc-Andre Fleury blowing up). When that happens, people will say “Gee, Malkin/Crosby/Fleury were terrible.” Perhaps they should point out that Pittsburgh is trying to win with an abysmal bottom half of their team, which piles an awful lot of pressure on the other guys.
It’s a bad situation. And even worse, time is running out to fix it.
The Pens have hidden their bottom six for as long as possible, but the cracks are starting to show. Ray Shero and the brain trust have until Wednesday to fix it, whether that’s internally or with some trades. If they don't, they may go into the playoffs as an underdog, which, hey, may not be a bad thing.
The recap and some excellent pics from this one:
Chicago’s beast sang the anthems; he’s one of the best in sports.
The game started because the puck was dropped, but that was the only way to know.
Despres was allowed to play and took the first penalty of the game. Hawks couldn’t really put their PP to work in the elements, so it was killed with ease.
Conditions got real bad real fast. It was just bad times.
Tanner Glass went to the box for something. Couldn’t really see what happened through the snow.
The crews were cleaning snow off the ice every stoppage.
Patrick Sharp scored somehow. 1-0.
Pens got a PP at the end of the period. Game may have already been over after the goal by Sharp.
NBC was using one of the most bizarre camera angles we've ever seen. It was nauseating to watch at times.
The first ten minutes
The teams traded penalties for most of the opening 10.
Note the penalty on Johnny Oduya. Toews gave Crosby a how-do after the penalty, obviously accusing him of diving.
The Penguins’ power play wasn't clicking, and when that doesn't happen, things don't end up well.
Jonathan Toews' leadership
Toews started chirping Crosby after a penalty and got him all jammed up.
Then, at around the 10-minute mark, Toews did this to Orpik:
Good god almighty. 2-0.
Six minutes later, Patrick Kane dangled the shit out of Rob Scuderi on a 3-on-1 and found Kris Versteeg. 3-0.
Two great meltdowns last night on Twitter.
Fleury blamed by local beat writer
As things fell apart for the Penguins, of course Twitter was a war zone. Someone pointed out that after it was 2-0, the Trib's new beat writer was already leading the anti-Fleury train. By no means should Fleury not be at fault, but Jesus.
Now, we have no interest in a battle or a mainstream media/blogger war. That shit is old. But we more or less just feel bad for Penguins fans that some of the folks covering the team are so out of the loop when it comes to hockey. This follow-up tweet from Rob Rossi's intern makes it clear:
New group of people have gotten together. Watch out for the "Pirate fans watching hockey for the first time ever" crowd.
Local Weatherman calls out Malkin and Crosby
We guess if you don't know anything about storm patterns and blow forecast after forecast, talking hockey is the next logical step.
Pens got some hope after Seabrook put a puck into his own net. James Neal got credit for it. 3-1.
The power play is a huge part of the Penguins’ game, and they were unable to come through in this one. They had a huge chance with 10 minutes left but could not convert.
Three minutes later, Bickell buried a goal, and the game was over. 4-1.
Toews put the finishing touches on the teabagging. 5-1.
— That's 10 goals given up by MAF in the last 2 games. Looks tired.
— Pens Outdoor games have officially jumped the shark. It was a wild time, but, please, it is time to stop for a decade or two.
— Benchmark game for Taylor Pyatt. May never see a worst stat-line ever.
— Pens in Nashville Tuesday.