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2013/14 Playoffs- Week 1 Recap

We’re officially a week into the 2013/14 NHL playoffs and we’ve already seen our share of overtime dramatics, borderline hits, curious officiating, and Pierre McGuire. While every series has seen at least 3 games played, now is a good time to check in on what we’ve learned through week 1 of the dance and what we should expect over the next week.

Game Three Observations; When Will The Sleeping Giants Wake

When teams have a two goal lead, the announcers like to bring up the old adage that this is the hardest lead in hockey to hang on to.

They might have a point.

In three games between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team with the two goal lead in the game has gone on to lose said game by a score of 4-3. Pittsburgh was victorious in games one and three, Columbus won game two.

For the first time in this series the special teams were not special. There was not a single power play or shorthanded goal scored in this game despite ten combined power play chances.

Here are a few observations so far from this series.

Standouts (average ice tim...

Columbus Takes Game Two, Pittsburgh Needs To Make Adjustments

Columbus beat the Penguins for the first time this season thanks to a valiant double overtime effort in game two.

The Blue Jackets once again used their special teams to their advantage. When Pittsburgh used four forwards on the Power Play, Columbus pressured hard. They were able to score their second shorthanded goal of the series, this one at the expense of a poor decision by Evgeni Malkin.

The game was not a strong one for the Penguins, but it certainly is not a series killer. Tied at one apiece, the Penguins are forced to assert themselves on the road against a confident young team. If Pittsburgh wants to play the series clinching game at home on Saturday, here are a few a...

Depth and Resiliency Key Big Comeback Win for Penguins

I have said on multiple occasions that this Pittsburgh team is not deep enough to beat a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference Finals or in the Stanley Cup finals.

Now, as is the usual case, I might be wrong.

The Pittsburgh Penguins turned the tide in game one by using the following combinations.

Kunitz – Crosby – Gibbons

Bennett – Sutter – Stempniak

Jokinen – Malkin – Neal

Glass – Vitale – Adams

The result was three lines that could not only skate well, but that could pressure enough to score goals.

The game started out as a physical battle that heavily leaned toward the Columbus Blue...

Breaking: Letang To Return To Penguins Lineup Tonight

In a brief and sudden press conference on Wednesday morning, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero announced that defenseman Kris Letang will be returning to the lineup.

Letang, 26, suffered a stroke in January while the Penguins were on a road trip out west. It is important to note that once Letang had successfully underwent treatment, including blood thinners; he would be medically cleared to play.

“He's at no further risk to suffer a stroke playing hockey than going to grocery store.” Said Ray Shero at the press conference

He is correct in saying so. Letang has a heart condition that doesn’t change with elevated heart rates, unlike the heart condition...

The Writing is on the Wall; Pittsburgh's Depth Does Not Spark Confidence Towards a Cup Run

It is a tough pill to swallow, knowing that your team no longer has a quality shot at a Stanley Cup.

With injuries hampering the return of a two top six forwards and a top four defensemen the Penguins are just not fully equipped to go through the rigors of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It is just not a feasible request.

To beat a team like the Boston Bruins or the Philadelphia Flyers without Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Paul Martin, the Penguins would have to have their depth come through in major ways. This is assuming the Penguins currently have the depth to pull this off.

Although Beau Bennett has returned and played well since his return, he is not enough. Pittsburgh ...

Blackhawks extend losing streak to 3 after loss to Penguins

Both the Blackhawks and Penguins talked about needing to win Sunday night's match prior to the game; both teams had lost their last two games.

Pittsburgh just sold what they were saying better in the first period, going up 2-0 halfway through the period with goals just 21 seconds apart by James Neal and Lee Stempniak.

Sheldon Brookbank got the Blackhawks on the board 11:10 into the second period.

But any elation that Chicago might have felt over finally scoring was punched in the gut a few minutes later when Brooks Orpik checked Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews hard into the boards. Though the hit was called legal on the ice, Toews hit the boards hard...

Blackhawks and Penguins indoors face-off

The Blackhawks (42-18-15) are visiting Pittsburgh to face the Penguins (47-22-5), one of the yearly big Stanley Cup contenders. It’s almost the end of the regular season, with all teams having under 10 games to play and playoffs spots being claimed. The Penguins have earned theirs during the week, and at the time this preview was written, the Blackhawks were a point behind clinching a playoff berth themselves.

 

The last time these two teams faced each other was for the Stadium Series outdoor game in Chicago’s Soldier Field,...

The Pens and the Curse of Changing Expectations

The reactions and fallout from both Pens fans and scribes varied a bit after the unexpected sweep from the Eastern Conference Finals at the hands of the Boston Bruins last spring. The clamoring for large scale change rung far and wide that had fans calling for Head Coach Dan Blysma’s head on a platter and jettisoning goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to parts unknown using any method available to General Manager Ray Shero’s disposal among other “blow it up and start again” knee jerk reactions. In fact, Shero himself didn’t escape the shark jumpers and over analyzers this time as his deadline acquisitions had impacted the roster negativel...

Firing Dan Bylsma? Penguins Fans Have This One Backwards.

There is currently a movement in the city of Pittsburgh that is headstrong on firing coach Dan Bylsma. Despite having the most injuries in the league and the likely probability of finishing second in the conference, the fans seem to have had enough.

Enough, you hear it time and time again. The callers on talk radio say they have had enough of Dan Bylsma, that his system clearly doesn’t work.

Enough of the consistent playoff appearances despite the massive injuries this team has suffered in the recent seasons?

Enough of the team overachieving despite having a clear lack of back end talent left from subpar drafting strategies?

In 2010-2011, the Penguins lost bo...