There is a growing concern for me with this Pittsburgh Penguins team, faithful...um...reader or two? Marc-Andre Fleury is under attack in the net and nothing is being down to alleviate such a situation. The past two games have been specifically bad. Montreal's first goal was the direct result of MAF getting run:
You know what happened to Mathieu Darche? Nothing. Darche even knows he's done something wrong, just look at that face he's sporting: wide eyed terror, he KNOWS something should happen to him. But, no, he celebrated the goal that happened as a direct result to his actions and went to the bench for a cool drink of water. Just take a look at the box score, the only time you see Darche on is at the second start position and in the goal department for pocketing this GWG:
Does it fill you with anger, readers? That Marc-Andre Fleury is clearly off his game because he is getting no protection in his crease? That people are scoring goals in the paint or while he is plastered against the wall? Where is anything?
What is so stunning about this lack of protection with Fleury, or the very most basic of protection as I'll get into, is that players are still protecting each other elsewhere on the ice. With about five minutes left in the third and the Habs leading 5-2, the game seems to be pretty much over for the Penguins. We could still hope with our offensive guns, but it was a slim hope. Anyone, Ryan White decided this game, which to that point, had only 9 penalties and mostly minor infractions such as hooking and interference, decided the game needed a black eye so he does his best Colby Armstrong (and we all know how I feel about him), impression on Evgeni Malkin. Enter Billy Guerin. Guerin, like Gary Roberts before him, is cut from different cloth than most hockey players these days. The days of rough and tumble power forwards that were embodied by the likes of Roberts, Guerin, and Owen Nolan are going the way of the dinosaur, but it's good to see the gray beard still has something in him.
Seventeen Penalty minutes and a goal, not a bad day for Billy Guerin. I'll take that all day in a game that is out of hand and made further out of hand by some joke from the AHL. That's what should have happened for most of the game. With the exception of a few players, the Canadiens were a bunch of kids up from the AHL. They should've been smacked upside the head every time a toe was out of line. Alas, they were not.
The very next day, as if by some miracle, I am handed an example of how to deal with the crap Marc-Andre Fleury is dealing with. Terrible and stunning though it is to say this, but the Washington Capitals dealt with crease traffic in a way the Penguins should be doing themselves. Early in the game, the Penguins had a chance to step up and put a stop to this once and for all with Alex Ovechkin sniffing around the Penguin goal after the whistle:
Seriously Orpik, just drop 'em. Why the fuck not? Afraid of the Caps PP? I suppose this is true if you're going to take the extra two, but you'll be taking Ovechkin off for at the very least five minutes. I'd take that chance in a heartbeat. It gives Fleury some confidence, it takes away the Caps confidence of running Fleury because it shows the Pens won't take shit, and it shuts Ovechkin up after he gets a nice helping of Free Candy. I don't see the downside.
Later in the game the Caps give us an example of take care of your business in front of the net, and all I need is the picture:
Getting shit done right here. You go to the front of the net. You have to pay for it. You think Theodore doesn't get more confidence seeing his defensemen knocking guys around, ESPECIALLY when they're a guy like Crosby?
I know what you're thinking though, what about penalties? Sometimes, you have to take the chance, sometimes you have to take an extra penalty in order to get your point across that you can't pull this shit with our goaltender, sometimes it's just well worth it.
BUT. Let us end on a happy note shall we? Nothing I love more than Fuck yeah! Craig Adams! Adams was making his presence known in this game, as he usually does to people who know hockey is more about goals and assists. Big checks culminating in catching Alex Ovechkin in a precarious position. Bitch all you want about a boarding call, but you'll excuse me if I don't shed a tear for a guy who is a notorious knee on knee hurting, not to mention someone who takes extra strides into a check. It's the right response by the Capitals at least. If someone hits Malkin like that, I'd want a guy like Knuble to do the exact same thing:
Fuck yeah! Craig Adams doesn't take shit like that though. It's absolutely amazing to me that Adams has been jumped a few times this season yet always seems to not only get his gloves off but get in a few shots. In this case, he WINS the fight to boot. That's why he's a big time deal, doing the Shiner Line proud.
As for people bitching that it was a dirty hit? Maybe, could be, probably. You know what though? I really don't care, so I'll direct all complaining to one of my other favorite Russians: The Heavy.
Cry some more.