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20 February 2009

Loving It!

How about them Pens!
Now, I didn't love the two temporary comebacks from the Canadiens, but I did love the way we played. Malkin scored an incredible goal and Sykora scored a great goal, which is nothing out of the normal routine for them. The thing that wasn't routine was the in front of the goal deflection by Satan, the crash the net goal by Talbot, and (the best one of all) Gonchar scoring a slapper from the point. It was like the good old Penguins. The 94th consecutive sellout was screaming like maniacs, almost like a playoff game.
“When we play a real good game you’ll see extended periods in the offensive zone,” Bylsma said. “It’s up-and-down hockey. It’s not run-down hockey we’re looking to play. We’re looking to play offensive zone time and repeatedly get shift after shift after shift where we can (pin) them in and gain the momentum that way.”

The differences I noticed between Therrian's system and Bylsma's system are as follows:

  1. On offense, the defense is chipping in and sometimes even going deep, even when it doesn't look like their is a play developing. I saw on several occasions the defense were in deeper than a winger.
  2. On defense, the offense was backchecking and giving the defensemen room to move the puck and dig it out of the corners easier. This clogs up the opposing offense and doesn't give them a clear possession. “From behind the bench I saw good things going on the offense, speed, going north-south quickly. I think what I was most pleased with was how I saw our forwards come back in a lot of situations. I think we lifted up sticks, about 10 or 12 times with our forwards coming back and tracking down their forwards.”-Bylsma

  3. On the power play, I really couldn't pinpoint significant differences, all except for execution.

  4. On the penalty kill, I saw the defenders attacking the opposition, making nothing clean for the other team. With the exception of the 5 on 3, it worked perfectly and actually created some offense for us.
They seem to be subtle changes according to the players and the coaches, but it looked nothing like the team under Therrian. Not even last year's team had this grit and tenacity. We took it to them hard and fast. The exciting thing is that this was under two days preparation. They will get another practice in tomorrow before the back to back games aginst the Flyers then the Capitals. I think these two games will be a huge statement to the seriousness of our resolve. If we truly want to get into the playoffs and make some noise, we need to win one, if not both these games. They are huge rivalry games and they are both on the rise.

“I told the players before the game, how you play is going to send a message to the fans and to the Canadiens in tonight’s game,” Bylsma said. “Our guys were focused. Our guys were ready to go. I think they had a clear understanding of what was at stake and how we wanted to play. While I said it wasn’t perfect, I think we sent the message nice and clear. This is a team where we think we can go and play aggressive and we were aggressive offensively more like we wanted to be, and it was a great message.”

I hope the other teams at the bottom of the standings that are within striking distance hear us loud and clear. I am really looking forward to the two games this weekend now.

"We were playing aggressive and took advantage of some good chances. It was a pretty high tempo, and that's the way we want to play," said Sidney Crosby, whose quick pass across the slot set up Malkin's 26th goal. "We were reacting out there pretty well, but at the same time we still have a few kinks to work out."

I completely agree...I can also see us getting a whole lot better too.

"It was not really deflating -- yes, they were coming back but ... I don't think guys were worried, guys were still confident and nobody really had their head down going, 'Here we go again,"' Talbot said. "Guys were ready to go again, we played with passion and desperation and got a big two points."

"Yes, they came back but everybody on the bench said, ‘OK, we can still do this,'" Talbot said. "They came back and the game was tied, but we kind of knew we were going to win that game. The way we played all night, and guys were not worried like the way we have been in the last couple of months. If that game would have happened a couple of months ago, guys would have been like, ‘Oh, here we go again.’ But tonight the guys were upbeat and we knew we could win.”

I think this was the key quote for me in this game. It is completely unlike something our team would have said a couple months ago. As soon as I read it, I just smiled.

"It's definitely a more fun way for us to play," Orpik said. "It's going to take time to get used to and we were a little sloppy at times, but I thought the work ethic was the best we've had in a while."

“Matt Cooke got me the puck,” Bylsma said. “I told him he’s 10 favors for the coach away from getting in front of the net on the power play.”

“When you play a 60-minute game, the plan is to invest and to wear down and force them to play a pace that makes it hard to keep up for 60 minutes,” Bylsma said. “That’s why it’s a 60-minute game. So we kept playing the pace and we said after the second period, this is a team that played last night, we have to keep playing at that pace and keep attacking aggressively. We have to track back, don’t give them chances to get in the offensive zone. Our thought going out, if we can continue to play at the pace that we established for most of the first two periods, that we would have a good opportunity to get some chances to win the game.”

One thing I am really looking forward to is March 4th. There is a billion rumors running rampant in the league involving the Pens and everyone that is a winger. Keep your eyes and ears open. I watch pretty closely, so keep an eye on my twitter. That sounds serious..Ha Ha.

I believe that moving Therrian and his system out was the best thing for this team, even though he seems to have convinced the entire hockey world that he was the best thing since sliced bread. Good for him, he might get another head coaching job sooner this way.

I think this weekend is key. How we play this weekend will show the league we are back and ready to start defending our Eastern Conference Championship trophy. It may be late, but not too late. Remember, we are four points out of a playoff spot, but six points out of fifth place in the East. I like our position and our spot. It is the perfect time to get hot and roll into the playoffs.
Let's Go Pens!


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