Saturday, April 23, 2011
Weekend Waylay. Series Goes Back to Tampa
We really should have seen that one coming. And oddly enough, we did. The weird start time should have been an omen.
The Pens came out blazing. Not like Wiz Khalifa blazing, but you know, fast. A bunch of good chances in the first half of the first, capped with Brooks Orpik nearly taking the net off its moorings with a slapper. Then all of a sudden, the Lightning break out of the Pens zone and make 20,000 passes, eventually setting up Simon Gagne for a a ridiculously easy goal. A half a second later, the Lightning scored again, and the wheels just came off.
Actually, this picture is an understatement.
The rest of the game was a blur, really. It ended up being a billion to 2. Mike Rupp and Chris Connor with well-deserved goals.
A few game notes:
-Steven Stamkos finally woke up. He's too good of a player to be quiet for an entire series. They're a different team when he's playing well
-The Pens defense was completely non-existent. Hands down the worst Pens defensive performance of the year. Nobody played well. From Letang and Orpik on down.
-Did Martin St. Louis even touch a puck? The fact that they could score 8 goals without much mention of St. Louis is terrifying.
-Bylsma probably tore the head off a small child after the game.
All that being said, I just don't see how the Pens can go to Tampa and lose. Given the resiliency of this team (best personified by MAF, who is unreal in games after he was pulled in the previous one), they won't go into Florida without their asses on fire. Nobody wants to be embarrassed like that. Particularly not at home. Games like that leave a very sour taste. One could easily argue that the Lightning took momentum away from the Pens in Game 5. These are probably the same people who thought the Lightning wouldn't be able to rebound from their Double OT Game 4 loss.
Momentum is a very tricky beast. If you believe that you have it, you probably don't. To believe that the Lightning will maintain that level of momentum into Game 6, then you vastly underestimate the heart of this Penguin team. Every one of these guys have something to prove.
Supposedly this was a team that could never win without Crosby and Malkin. Yet they did, and they continue to. If you want to write them off, go ahead. It's nothing they haven't heard before.
Pens will take it in six. I have no doubt. Let's go.