Home > Uncategorized > Canadiens vs. Penguins 03/12

Canadiens vs. Penguins 03/12

With the Penguins falling 3-0 to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday afternoon, all of a sudden the Eastern conference playoff seeding looks much more interesting.  The Penguins continue to battle without obvious difference makers Crosby, Malkin, and Brooks Orpik, with mixed results.  Saturday’s matchup was no different.

The game began with promise as Dustin Jeffrey barreled down the left wing released a laser wrist shot that narrowly missed the net behind Carey Price, hitting the right post.  From that point on there wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about for Penguin fans.  Soon after Jeffrey’s near miss and still with less than a minute played in the first period, Tomas Plekanec was left unattended in front of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.  Plekanec made a quick juke from left to right and delivered a backhand past Fleury on the goaltender’s glove side.

The rest of the first period was devoid of many legitimate chances for the Penguins and Montreal only furthered their lead in the second.  Travis Moen took advantage of a 3 on 2 for Montreal and his heavy shot went against the grain and into the net as Marc-Andre Fleury glided across the crease to face him.  About six minutes later Michael Cammalleri became the beneficiary from a feed from Jeff Halpern, giving the Canadians a three goal lead.  The only glimmer of scoring hope from the Penguins was when Jeff Neal was stopped by Carey Price in glorious fashion, as Neal was left all alone at the top of the crease.  He shuffled from left to right dangling with the puck all the way, yet Price managed to keep up with him laterally and block the shot into the netting above the glass.

From then on, especially in the third period, Montreal proceeded to put the clamps down defensively.  They allowed the Penguins to outshoot them 10-2 in the final frame and 26-20 in the game, however they were more than adept at suffocating the Penguins’ depleted forward corps.  What served them well the entire game was a nice mix of speed and passing ability that allowed them to quickly exit their own zone and enter Penguin territory.  Montreal’s ability to tic tac toe up the ice posed a problem for the Penguins, who have many forwards that lack acceleration and stopping/starting ability that allow them to match a quick counterattack.

Up until this point the Penguins have managed to keep their head above water in the Eastern conference standings while sustaining massive injuries.  As it stands now though they may have to do a little more than that if they want to keep hold of their 4th place ranking.  The Tampa Bay Lightning are only one point behind them with a game at hand.  A win for Tampa in their next game would vault them ahead of the Penguins which would reward them with home ice advantage if the two teams met in the playoffs.  Also, the Canadiens themselves reside three points behind Pittsburgh.  That situation is a bit more complicated though since Boston is also in that range.  It would be hard for the Canadiens to pass Pittsburgh without passing Boston, and if that happened Montreal would find themselves in the top three seeds for being a division winner.

There are many scenarios that still have yet to play out as we enter the final stretch of the regular season.  One thing is certain though:  In order to ensure the best matchup possible (and preferably, home ice) the Penguins must find a way to overcome the inconsistencies that have plagued them without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

The Penguins next game is at 3PM EST versus the Edmonton Oilers at Consol Energy Center.

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