Archive for the ‘Pittsburgh Penguins’ Category

The Penguins get the OTHER other ridiculously talented Russian (pick 13)

July 25, 2009

13. Ilya Kovalchuk goes to Pensburgh/the Pittsburgh Penguins

Cap Hit: $6,389,300

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Denson from Bangin Panger takes a look at free agency for the defending Stanley Cup champs

July 1, 2009

You can check out Denson’s fine work at Bangin Panger as well as his Pens-related blog, “Pens are Mightier.”

Which player, for the love of God, do you NOT want to see in your team’s sweater in the 09-10 season?

Pretty sure this one goes without saying for most Pens fans…but for f’s sake do not, under any circumstance, bring back Miroslav…Shitan…heyooo. Such a useless piece of shit. Scored a couple big goals in the Carolina series this post season, but that doesn’t excuse his awfulness the rest of the season. Give him credit for how he handled the minors situation and for getting a “second” chance…but he doesn’t mesh with the rest of the players in the locker room, he’s lazy, and he’s every other stereotypical thing anyone has ever said about him…just plain poop. Let him go to the NEW New York Islanders…the city where players go to let their careers die…Atlanta.

Conversely, pick a potential move by another team that would just crush your soul/favorite team’s chances

I’m not sure my soul could be crushed more than it was last year when Hossa went running for the hills to play for the eventual 2009 Stanley Cup Champions (snarrkkkk) but I’ll try to offer something. Not that enough hasn’t already happened to make me think Atlantic Division hockey is going to be awesome next season (Pronger and Tavares) but now the talk that the Rangers could offer the farm for Danny Heatley has me ready to throw up. I already hate the prick enough as it is, no need to see him even more often in the regular season. It’s going to be a tough task for the Pens to repeat next year, as Philly has already drastically improved on defense and caused me to have nightmares of Crosby being concussed 40987543987435 times next season…but if, God forbid, the Rangers land Heatley then the Atlantic Division could turn into a 4-way race.

Is the Atlantic now the best division in the NHL?

June 29, 2009

So, with the draft behind us and our free agency coverage ready to begin tomorrow, we don’t have much time for general NHL meandering. But with the mammoth Chris Pronger trade and John Tavares going to the New York Islanders, we couldn’t help but wonder:

Is the Atlantic Division now primed to become the best division in the entire league?

Let’s look at the “Pros” for such an argument.

1. Everything the Penguins bring to the table

It never hurts to have the reigning Stanley Cup champions in your division, especially since they’re obviously not a flash in the pan after going to two SCFs in a row. They might not always be great in the regular season, but it’s hard to deny their heart, hustle and talent.

2. All kinds of elite talent, most of it young

Pronger gives this division the one thing it truly lacked: an elite defenseman (with all due respect to Sergei Gonchar). Pittsburgh features two of the three best forwards in the league. New Jersey saw Zach Parise jump to an elite level and also employs a goalie with more wins than any in NHL history.

Along with Parise and Pittsburgh’s dynamic duo, the Flyers have Mike Richards and Jeff Carter while the Islanders even landed a blue chip in Tavares.

3. Four quality teams

In addition to the Penguins, the Atlantic produced half of the Eastern Conference’s playoff representatives with the Rangers, Flyers and Devils also making it to the postseason.

4. Enigmatic, but potentially outstanding goaltending

Every Atlantic division team has a goalie who could be somewhere between above average to outstanding. Obviously, one must assume that Brodeur is still an outstanding goalie but it goes beyond that.

Henrik Lundqvist consistently puts together borderline Vezina caliber seasons. Marc Andre Fleury was erratic at times in the postseason, but a lot of people will probably remember his save on Nicklas Lidstrom a long time after they forget about some of those awful goals he allowed against the Washington Capitals.

Even the question mark goalies have potential. Sure, Ray Emery is a head case who eats bugs and potentially consumes other harmful toxins in his free time, but let’s not forget that he was often excellent in the Senators’ run to a SCF berth. Say what you want about his lifetime contract, Rick Dipietro was once the future of American goaltending and might still have a chance to be a solid franchise goalie if he can get over his injury concerns.

***

Again, this is looking at the situation before what typically changes the league the most: July 1st. Still, it’s interesting to ask: at this moment in time, did the Atlantic division leapfrog the Pacific and Central as the class of the NHL?

We’d love to hear what you think about that.

So I guess I can die without regrets?

June 14, 2009

No doubt about it: I’m a lucky bastard when it comes to sports.

But I’ve also managed to follow two sports teams that have some of the most hated/polarizing athletes in their given leagues (the Penguins with Sidney Crosby and the New York Giants with Eli Manning). Hating Manning always made a little more sense to me: his Elmer Fudd accent, refusal to play in San Diego and the tides of nepotism all made him an easy target.

The hatred of Crosby is an interesting little dichotomy. On one hand, he’s the ultimate Pepsi Challenge; I’m completely convinced that if he was some guy who wore a blank jersey, his high-effort and unselfish playing style would make hockey snobs swoon. Yet much like our nation’s preference of Coca-Cola, the key really is in packaging. Hockey fans live with an inferiority complex: our game is fast, exciting and violent … all the elements of what football should be … but most of America could give a shit. So when one guy gets as much attention as Crosby receives, it’s natural that many fans react to Crosby like he’s pushing them into a locker while wearing a letter jacket. Or calling them “Darrrsh!”

I get it. Seriously, I really do. I’d probably hate him if I wasn’t a Penguins fan. I think.

But as a fan of both the Giants and Penguins for as long as I’ve followed either sport, I am “stuck” with Eli and “Cindy.” Even if those two teams saw a marathon of 0-22 drubbings to the Carolina Panthers and seasons with Dick Tarnstrom as their scoring leader, I would have been there through it all.

There are plenty of places to read gloating/ecstatic Penguins fans. So I’ll try to spare you as much as possible.

The only other thing I’ll offer is this: the fact that the Penguins beat the Red Wings makes it much sweeter. And not because of the tired Hossa storyline (although that did make me laugh). No, it was sweeter because the Red Wings are the greatest sports franchise on the face of the earth. Up and down their roster and all throughout their organization, there is nothing but competence. As I pointed out to a friend, it’s one thing to win a championship by beating the Seattle Seahawks or some Cinderella team. But being a true juggernaut? That’s special.

OK, that’s my paragraph of annoyance. (One question, though: how am I supposed to feel about Marc Andre Fleury and Jordan Staal now? Not sure I can be objective about those two ever again.)

***

More on this later, but expect CLS to be pretty damn lively for most of the summer. I can see a lot of the team blogs shutting down without Game Day posts and the like … as a NHL blog, though, there should still be a reason to check out our site on a regular basis. Will there be a “vacation” at some point? Maybe, to some extent.


We should have big events for: the NHL draft, Free Agency, the release of NHL ’10/NHL 2K10, Fantasy Hockey drafts and the opening of the 09-10 season. So keep us in your minds, hearts and Google Reader subscription lists.

Please.

Game 7 from a Pens fan perspective

June 12, 2009

Since the Penguins’ two Cup wins were before my time (I think I was more focused on professional wrestling and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” than hockey in those days), this is probably the biggest hockey game of my existence. It might even be safe to say that this is the biggest game in franchise history, as it is the first SCF Game 7 the Penguins have ever seen.

An irritating-to-painful sickness has dulled some of the nerves of the last week of this series, but tonight could be quite different.

That actually is the question, though: will tonight be different?

As Mirtle (and others) point out, this series has been a “homer” series if there’s ever been one. Beyond undeniably relevant intangibles like “home cooking” and the rush of playing in front of your own crowd there are big pros to being at the Joe: faceoff advantages for an expert team in the circle, the last change for a series defined by matchups and those crazy pinball boards that have given MAF fits.

If Game 5 repeats itself, the NHL will face the disappointment of a marquee matchup with a flat ending. No doubt about it; the league must hope that tonight’s game will be very different even if the winner is the same.

There are a lot of reasons to be negative. Sidney Crosby has been largely nullified, even at times at home. Chris Osgood is making a strong case for a Conn Smythe trophy and although his HoF credentials are a debate for another day, his sub-$2 million contract is probably a HoF bargain. Fleury is schizophrenic in net … going from bad to spectacular to atrocious to adequate seemingly every other game. Worst yet, Evgeni Malkin has been relatively quiet the last couple games.

But the positive thing is: they only need to be different for one game.

In the event that Crosby and Malkin find a way to transcend their seemingly hopeless matchups – or their linemates decide to finally bury the occasional golden opportunities set up by the dynamic duo – then whatever struggles (perceived or legitimate) will wash away in the boozy suds of the Stanley Cup. There’s that fear that maybe the two will assume that, after getting here two years in a row at such a young age, that they’ll make it to this stage again someday. All they need to do is ask Jaromir Jagr if that’s a safe assumption.

It might not matter if the Penguins play “with desperation.” The Red Wings are an incredible collection of talent and are nearly unbeatable at home. Few could doubt Crosby’s hustle, Malkin’s two-way genius and creativity. Those factors still haven’t added up to much for the Penguins in Hockeytown.

But one night can change everything. Or nothing.

What’s it going to be, eh?

Assessing Game 6 through a haze of cold medicine

June 10, 2009

When I had an internship, I developed a cough/flu/cold so hardcore and persistent that – instead of trying to find a way to cure it – I might as well have spent that time finding the perfect slasher movie comparison. While it did get gradually weaker as time went on, it didn’t have a weird fixation with impaling people (exit Michael Myers), sleep made it slightly weaker (sorry, Freddie) and had nothing to do with summer camp (so long Jason).

Eventually, I’ve settled on calling it a “Terminator” cough.

Regardless, ever since that happened, my immune system has been kind of like Pierre Turgeon after Dale Hunter‘s brutal, douche-bag late hit. At times it can be effective, but you know it will never be the same.

ANYWAY, being sick really reduced my stress level during a finish that normally would have sent me into cardiac arrest. Ultimately, the Penguins deserved to win this game, even if the ending was truly terrifying.

Now, let’s delve into the customary stream of puck consciousness.

Does anyone get the vague feeling that Detroit thinks they can just flick on a light switch in this series?

It’s obvious that there are a lot of things that come easier to the Red Wings – particularly transitioning from their zone through the neutral zone – but their elbow grease level seems somewhat inconsistent. At least on the road, that is.

It’s too bad that “Cycle like Staal-Kennedy-Cooke” doesn’t really roll off the tongue, because I’ve grown quite fond of that line.

Even when they don’t score, their rough and gritty cycle game can build momentum, wear down Detroit’s D and draw penalties. It seems like that line really made Nicklas Lidstrom‘s life miserable tonight.

One of the big stories of the series is Detroit’s matchup against Sidney Crosby. It’s a shame that Dan Bylsma has to react to what the Red Wings are doing even when the Pens have the last change, but when it’s clear that Detroit can shut down the Penguins’ top line it’s just a painful fact of life. The bottom line is that the Penguins need Crosby to produce if they have any prayer in Game 7.

Evgeni Malkin needs a finisher. Ruslan Fedetenko played that role nicely, but he’s missed a few golden opportunities in the SCF and it might be time to see if Petr Sykora can rekindle the chemistry he had with Geno in the talented Russian’s first two years in the league.

It’s crazy how far the Penguins have come with questionable talent on the wings.

It’s always nice to have a guy who “you hate to play against, but love to have on your team.” Matt Cooke is the number one guy, but Chris Kunitz and Brooks Orpik also deliver some real bone crunching hits. This is the most physically tenacious Penguins team I’ve been able to watch.

Chris Osgood was incredible in Game 6.

Even though Henrik Zetterberg has displayed an amazing all-around game and Johan Franzen has been a stunning goal-scoring machine, Ozzie is the only Red Wing I can accept winning the Smythe over Malkin/Crosby. Even if he’s a smarmy, Smurfy looking douche.

There have been quite a few moments in this series – for both teams – that made me think “clutch and grab.”I know that’s “playoff hockey” but maybe there’s still some cause for concern.

The officiating hasn’t been great, but I guess I’ll take “letting the players decide it” over NBA-style zebra intervention. Still, the league needs to stand its ground on holding and interference. Let the stars be stars.

I understand the Ducks-Devils parallels, although the are some pretty enormous differences.

NJ/Anaheim featured teams with star … goaltenders. In markets that aren’t necessarily the most hockey crazed. On the other hand, Detroit is the marquee franchise for American hockey and the Penguins have two of the biggest stars in the league.

Hopefully, the biggest difference will be that the home ice advantage will be broken.

Test your might

June 6, 2009

(Note: make sure to check out Joe’s take from earlier today)

There is a lot of back-patting going on among Pittsburgh fans and I understand that. Thursday night’s win was, almost certainly, the greatest Penguins win since Mario‘s gravy days.

Still, the challenge ahead reminds me of “Mortal Kombat.” You feel really good about yourself as you climb the ranks, upper-cutting your opponents onto spikes and ripping their hearts out. The wise digi-warriors know, though, that the worst is yet to come. Consider winning a third game beating Goro and winning the Cup taking down Shao Khan. Any MK veteran will tell you that beating Goro (or Motaro or whatever weird beast that serves as the second-to-last battle) is way, WAY more difficult than beating Johnny Cage and the game’s other cupcakes.

So put on your crazy Raiden hats, it’s time to harpoon some random thoughts going into Game 5.

  • Hopefully I’m not alone in this, but the probable return of Pavel Datsyuk makes me extremely nervous. Even at 70 percent (or whatever arbitrary percentage you attach to his relative health), he’s horrifying. Let’s hope he doesn’t create a Willis Reed moment.
  • My friend and I were watching what should have been the last game of Michael Jordan‘s career (you may remember it as the Chicago Bulls’ Game 6 NBA Finals winner against the Utah Jazz, a game in which Jordan got away with a push-off and subsequently broke thousands, if not millions, of Mormon hearts in the process) on ESPN Classic the other day. Bob Costas was talking about how Jordan was coming back to the pack. Costas didn’t mean that Jordan wasn’t the best – just that he was no longer stupidly better than everyone else.

Watching Nicklas Lidstrom makes me think of this description. Lidstrom is still – clearly – the best defenseman in the NHL. He’s still very scary. That being said, his dominance is now even more subtle than before.

(Then again, he could just be saving his best for last.)

  • One of the stories the MSM flogged to death after Game 4 was Henrik Zetterberg‘s fatigue in trying to shadow Sidney Crosby.

It got me thinking: should the Red Wings consider giving Geno Malkin the suffocation treatment instead of Crosby? Malkin already has seven points in four games and just seems to get stronger and stronger. Granted, Malkin’s size might make matchups pointless for opponents, but it is odd that we hear all that about stopping Crosby but receive very little information about who’s lining up against the Pens’ Hart trophy candidate.

  • One thing’s for sure: it’s pretty much impossible for Penguins fans to detach themselves at this point. Pittsburgh proved they belong in the first four games and so now we reach a point of no return. If they lose, it will hurt. Bad.

Conn Smythe Winners, for $500, Alex.

June 6, 2009

Who was the only non-goalie to win a Conn Smythe trophy in a losing effort?

So its pretty much a given that if PIT wins this series, the Conn Smythe goes to Crosby/Malkin, with Malkin leading right now. No matter what happens in the next three games, short of Crosby and Malkin both being abducted by aliens, no one else on the Penguins can possibly win the Conn Smythe. The interesting discussion is what happens to the Conn Smythe if the Wings win it.

The Conn Smythe has been awarded 33 times, if I just counted correctly. 5 times it has gone to a player on the losing end of the Cup Final series. Four of those recipients have been goaltenders (Giguere 2003, Hextall 1987, Hall 1968, Crozier 1966). Only one player has ever won the Conn Smythe as the playoffs MVP in a losing effort, and not been a goaltender. That player is Philadelphia Flyer Reggie Leach, in 1976.

Leach actually won it as his Flyers were swept in the Cup Final by the Montreal Canadiens. Leach finished that postseason with 19 goals scored, a record that has since been tied by Jari Kurri. Leach had 19 goals, but of those 19 goals, 5 of them came in one game against the Boston Bruins earlier in the playoffs, and he only had 24 points total. He had 4 goals in the final, of Philadelphia’s total 9. 19 goals in a playoff is a hell of a number, but when you take out that 5 goal game, you’re looking at 14-5-19 in 15 games. Still a solid year, but hardly worthy of a losing-team Conn Smythe trophy, I don’t think. I also don’t know how many assists might have come in that 5-goal game, so his points total sans that game might be less.

Could Malkin or Crosby win the Conn Smythe this year in a losing effort? As Mirtle says, they’ve certainly had some pretty historic years. The question then arises, should they? I’m not so sure on that. They’re certainly more deserving than some past winners in losing efforts. But I have a hard time seeing handing out the trophy to one of those guys when the other has just as good of a case for it, and they’re on the same team, especially if the two of them come up short. Combined with the advantageous matchups that I believe the Penguins played (no way do they put up those numbers against some of the better defensive teams in the league), I find it harder to justify awarding the MVP to either of those guys.
On the Wings, I can see only a couple of players who could potentially earn the Conn Smythe: Johan Franzen (22 pts), Henrik Zetterberg (22 pts), Chris Osgood (2.29 GGA 0.924 SV%), and Nicklas Lidstrom (13 points, +9, general workhorse). Of course, I think it should be given to Darren Helm, but I’m not really grounded in reality. Of those, I’m thinking Henrik or Franzen is the front runner based on their point totals and sizable contributions all around. Lidstrom is probably in the mix, but I think the Wings’ defense as a whole dings him down a little bit here. To me, the most interesting choice here is Osgood.
Chris Osgood is already in the top 10 in all-time goaltender wins. If he continues to play another couple years in the league, he could definitely get into the top 8, and could very possibly end his career at #5-7. His 2.47 career GAA is good, but not great. His .906 SV% is fairly average. He currently sits in #8 in terms of all-time playoff wins at 73. A cup win gets him to 75, and he certainly could make it to the top 5 all-time, if he were to hit 88 in his career. He has a 2.11 GAA, one of the best in the modern era, and a .916 SV%. One of my favorite bloggers, the Contrarian Goaltender, will point out how Chris Osgood is a product of a team philosophy, and while I pretty much agree with him, I think there is certainly some amount of recognition due for the guy for what he is.
He has been a pretty consistent guy, though he’s certainly had his moments (and this past regular season was one of them). He’s been pretty durable, lasting in this league for 15 years. He’s redeveloped his style to stay in the game when it was clear he was on the way out. Hell, he even scored a goal. He’s received very little in the way of individual accolades and recognition. In a year where everyone pissed on him, where everyone (including myself) thought he was going to be the reason the Wings came up short in their quest to repeat, he stood up and had perhaps his best individual playoff yet, should he finally get some of that recognition? In the absence of any clear-cut 100% favorites amongst the Wings, should they win this series, could the Conn Smythe be awarded as more of a lifetime achievement award to Chris Osgood?

Thoughts on the big win for the Penguins (and the NHL)

June 5, 2009

It just seemed … fitting.

The Red Wings were up 2-1 with a second consecutive powerplay. For a while, the game seemed like it would be Geno Malkin vs. the Detroit Red Wings. As superhuman as Malkin was playing, it was obvious someone else would have to step up.

All of a sudden, Jordan Staal muscled the smaller Brian Rafalski and scored a spectacular shorthanded goal. Easily the biggest of his career. After fighting through Red Wing checks and cycling hard enough to make Lance Armstrong proud through the playoffs, Staal received a rare reward for his rugged, determined play.

Then the floodgates opened. Despite a nice pass block, Malkin second chanced it to Sidney Crosby who got that SCF “Outbreak” monkey off his back with what would ultimately be the game winning goal.

With an uncharacteristically flustered Red Wings team on their heels, the Penguins did their NBA Finals impression with a display of passing that would make Dean Smith ejaculate into his Dockers. The tic-tac-toe play resulted in a gorgeous Tyler Kennedy goal and the game was effectively over at 4-2.

This was, almost certainly, the greatest single period in the short history of the Crosby-Malkin connection. If the Penguins beat the odds and raise the Stanley Cup, pundits will point to that three goal explosion as the turning point of the series. If not, it will be a nice bookend to Marc Andre Fleury‘s miraculous Game 5 performance last year.

Some scattershot musings from the game:

  • For my money, Johan Franzen is currently the most dangerous Red Wing. Watching him amble toward the net feels like rooting for a woman trying to escape Michael Myers (even though he walks faster than she runs). Please, Fleury, DO NOT go up the stairs/inspect that loud noise outside your house.

  • I expected a lot more from the Red Wings in that third period. Naturally, there were some tense moments but it was actually a lot more serene than expected. Do the Red Wings simply feel that they can win every game at home? Could it be a matter of arrogance?
  • Fleury really bounced back admirably at home. He played fantastically in Game 4 and also saved Game 3 in the second period. Detroit is going to be pissed in Game 5, though, so this is just the beginning for Flower. It might be getting close to the right time to start sanding down those goat horns, though.
  • Now, I’m no Red Wings expert. But I have to admit that I found the scratching of Abdelkader (or AfroGator) quite perplexing. One Red Wing who actually seems to age like a human is Kris Draper (although he’ll be a bigger factor in Joe Louis Arena, where his world class faceoff abilities could make a difference).

  • With the notably low amount of powerplay opportunities, Tomas Holmstrom‘s impact has been quite minimal. Still, he’s probably the best at what he does and could make a difference as these games become more contentious.
  • Henrik Zetterberg seems like he’s really picked his game up in Pittsburgh. Marian Hossa might not be putting up points, but he really scares the shit out of me. (He’s not worth ruining the Red Wings’ cap space, though, IMO.)
  • Speaking of Hossa, Pens fans need to decide if they are going to boo him once and for all. They sound wishy-washy and it comes off as pathetic. Then again, even if it has nothing to do with his struggles, Hossa has been pretty quiet so maybe they should keep doing what they’re doing.

  • I discussed this on Twitter, but the “OS-GOOD” chant started a bit early. I’ve always felt that goalie mockery should come in blow outs, not games that are still to be decided. You don’t want to give a goalie more motivation, you want to kick him when he’s down. Right?
  • The Red Wings must lead the league in defensemen who can keep the puck in the zone under duress. That shit’s really going to stress me out going forward.
  • Special teams has been ENORMOUS in this series so far.

Just look at the Game-by-Game breakdown:

Pittsburgh: 1 for 3 (Game 4); 2 for 3 (Game 3); 1 for 1 (Game 2); 0 for 2 (Game 1)
1 SHG (Game 4)

Detroit: 0 for 4 (Game 4); 1 of 2 (Game 3); 0 for 2 (Game 2); 0 for 1 (Game 1)

With such a tiny sample, you can really have fun with stats that probably won’t even hold up by the next game. For instance:

The Penguins penalty kill has tied the Red Wings Powerplay.
The Penguins powerplay has scored in all but one SCF game; the Red Wings Powerplay has only scored in one SCF game.

The bottom line, though, is that the Pens went 4 for 9 and the Red Wings went 1 for 9 with a SHG allowed. Going into this series, I figured the Pens would have a slight special teams advantage. So far, though, it’s been a gigantic advantage.

  • This might be from the Department of the Painfully Obvious, but the Penguins’ best chance to win one on the road is probably in Game 5. I don’t buy into the Red Wings being “worn down” when they are a deeper team. Pavel Datsyuk might enter the building by Game 5 or 6 (or 7 or never), which would be a big boost.

Now, I’m an excessively negative fellow. But this is honestly the first time in this series that I think the Penguins could actually pull this one out. The Red Wings might be the better team, but the Penguins might want it more.

Chances are, though, that we’ll find out a lot about both teams in the next 2-3 games.

I’ll guarantee one winner after tonight:

The NHL, silly.

Almost time to panic, but not quite

June 2, 2009

I’ll be honest, my only real exposure to “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” was half-watching the movie in a drunken stupor. (It seemed OK … Mos Def is amusing and it has pre-Jim/protoJim/Tim from the British Office in it.) Let’s face it, though, it’s the first thing that came up in a Google Image search.

ANNNNYWAY, with the SCF under way (and Jesus lord let’s hope it’s not halfway done) and the NBA Finals about to start, it dawned on me that I’m pretty fucked in about two weeks. Baseball is not my sport, unless I’m drunk in the shade with an avalanche of peanut shells at my feet. The shade at home doesn’t count.

(Shit, maybe I might need to panic, not the Penguins.)

Just to illustrate the depth of badness, I watched “About Last Night” because there was nothing better on my X-Box Netflix queue. Even though my hatred for Jim Belushi rages beyond Chris Osgoodian proportions.

Good God I can’t believe I watched this movie.

(To be fair, there was a shocking amount of pre-ruined by Bruce Willis and Ashton Kutcher-Demi Moore boobs in that movie. Remember kids: small boobs need love too.)

So, the Penguins are in a lot of trouble right now. Being down 0-2 to Detroit is a problem. I’d compare the difference between overcoming the Red Wings versus the Capitals as the jump from hopping a suburban fence to scaling the Great Wall of China.

(Sorry, 80’s movies breed hyperbole. Re-read that sentence as “the Red Wings are tougher than the Capitals”, please.)

This post really isn’t going anywhere, so I’ll leave you with two goats and two semi-heroes.

(For the Penguins, that is.)

From far away that foot behind that goat looks like something … else. Don’t judge me.

Goat #1: Marc Andre Fleury

Sorry, he’s been awful.

Goat #2: Bill Guerin

For some reason, I constantly overreact to Guerin’s struggles. Maybe it’s his “Just for Men” beard. Either way, he had two wide open chances you have to bury and he came up dry. Dammit, Bill.

Semi-Hero #1: Jordan Staal

In true Jordan Staal fashion, he’s been awesome without putting up any points. Joe and I have discussed the fact that the Penguins might be better off spending $4 million on a winger, but I must admit the last two and a half rounds have made me feel better. Staal might not have his elder brother’s finishing touch, but he’s shown some serious balls. He might just be a gamer going forward.

(Besides, he won’t “fail to earn” his contract until next year. Right now, he’s a genuine bargain.)

Semi-Hero #2: Rob Scuderi

It’s going to be hard to stomach watching Brooks Orpik cough up pucks at $3.7 million next year if it means that the Penguins cannot retain Scuderi. While playing against Detroit hasn’t made him look qute so impressive, he’s still the kind of defensive defenseman the Penguins need to be competitive.

Let’s hope they can sign him to a reasonable deal.