Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lethargic Pens fall to Canes, 5-1; 'Burghers see this stuff too often




Ya know, the more I think of it, the more the Steelers and Penguins have similar mentalities when it comes to playing at home.

When the NFL playoff started last year, and the Steelers snuck in with their #6 seed, I told my good buddies at The Roth Army that this was the best position for the Steelers to be in. The Steelers, for at least the last several years have been playing in Heinz Field/Three Rivers with an incredible sense of perceived invincibility and quite often playing lackadaisically (it's a word, I looked it up). The opponents jump on loose balls quicker, hit the holes faster, and are tighter on defense a lot of the time. Don't believe me ? They almost lost to freakin' Miami to start the year because of it, and came that close to being winless so far.

So the Steelers go on the road, and granted, they get a fortunate twist of the knee by Carson Palmer, but soundly defeat the Bungles, completely dominate the Colts, and easily defeat the Broncos on the way to Super Bowl XL. Those Steelers teams went into those hostile environments completely focused, hitting everything that moved on defense, and executed their gameplans nearly flawlessly.

And that leads us to the Pens.

Don't you see a similar pattern developing ?? I've said for quite a few years now, probably going back to when Mario came back in '00, probably even earlier than that, the Pens at home just play too damn cutesy, too fancy.

Too many damn times that instead of driving hard to the net, they widen the ice on a 2-1 to make that pretty saucer pass for the one timer, that most often fails.

Too many times that they're trying to make that perfect pass on the power play, only to get it intercepted and tossed back down ice.

Too many times that the opponents, in last night's case the Canes, get to nearly EVERY loose puck first.

Compare that to the effort they did in MSG against the Rangers. Great checking against Jagr's line, excellent hustle along the boards and grabbing loose pucks, and getting good shots on net.

Coach Therrien described it best, in his broken English, as "immature" (OK, he said unmature, I'm helping him out here).

The Pens start overall has been encouraging, especially considering that only a few of the offensive starters are contributing anything at all (read: Recchi, Malone, Leclair, Armstrong, Ekman). Malkin's arrival hopefully next week should improve that. But this team is nowhere near the caliber team that is going to take the ice and come out of a ho-hum game with a win.

Something tells me that Therrien's next 3 days of practice before the Devils' game on Wednesday will reinforce that statement.

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