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Penguins loss not just Crosby and Malkin's fault

May 13, 2010, 1:00 PM EDT

Crosby7.jpgDavid Staples of the Edmonton Journal
has a great post up this morning
, on how the little moves made by
GM Bob Gainey have certainly paid off this postseason. While many teams
went after the big name acquisitions (and only Dany Heatley’s trade has
truly paid off for the Sharks), the Canadiens decided to instead go for
role players, hard working forwards that have made a big difference for
the Habs in the postseason.

He also breaks down what happened with
the Penguins, saying this wasn’t just about Crosby and Malkin not
having a good series:

* Some folks may suggest Sidney
Crosby choked, or that Evgeni Malkin
did. While neither had his best game, Crosby did help manufacture one
Pittsburgh goal with tough play in front of the net. The real goat on
the Pens was Marc-Andre Fleury, who has a great reputation but lets in
far too many soft goals in big games for my liking. Yes, he had a strong
enough series against Detroit last year, but that came after stinking
it out the year before.

While Crosby and Malkin were
certainly outplayed by the Habs’ dynamic duo of Brian Gionta and Mike
Cammalleri (that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write), you can’t put
all the blame squarely on their shoulders.

In their biggest game
of the season, Fleury was downright horrible; inexcusable when compared
to what was happening on the other end of the ice. No matter what his
overall playoffs record may indicate, Fleury has had just one truly
memorable performance in the postseason. Even then, he was marred by
soft goals and despite what some claim he’s yet to prove himself an
elite goaltender in the playoffs.

What has to be most concerning
for the Penguins is what has happened on the blue line and along the
wing. The Penguins received nearly zero production from their secondary
scorers and while this team is known for it’s depth at center it’s the
lack of depth along the wing that was the ultimate kick in the teeth.

The
Penguins are a team that has been built on star power, much like the
Capitals, but it was an overall team effort by a number of role players
that ultimately made the difference for the Canadiens.

  1. Chris W. - May 13, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    Now that the Penguins have also been vanquished by the Canadiens it is time the media re-visit its indictment against Ovechkin and simultaneous anointment of Sydney Crosby as the best player in hockey. Before Ovechkin skated off the ice the media and commentators alike rushed to this judgment. What will the media say now? Ovechkin put up superior numbers against the Canadiens and Crosby was barely visible. We’re told (even by Crosby himself) that great players find a way to score. Well, Crosby wasn’t able to apply his own philosophy. The fact is credit should go to the Canadiens who were successful in shutting down Crosby even more successfully than they did against Ovechkin. Will the media now say Ovechkin is clearly the better of the two players? For the record, I am neither a Crosby or Ovechkin fan, but rather a fan of hockey and I was stunned and disappointed at the immediate and collective knee-jerk reaction of the media against Ovechkin in favor of Crosby after the Capitals fell to Montreal in Game 7.

  2. Paul - May 13, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    Either Gonchar was injured more seriously than any of us knew last night, or he owes the wrong sort of someone a lot of money. I doubt if any of the Black Sox made it any more obvious.

  3. KB - May 13, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    @Chris, while I am not a Crosby or Ovechkin fan, I would have to say that I would rather have Crosby on my team than the “Great 8″ for one huge fundamental reason – Ovie is still “me first” instead of “team first”. This has not improved with him wearing the C, although he is finally learning to pass the puck instead and let a linemate take the shot. I agree that he is one of the top 5 most talented young forwards in the game, but he shows a prima donna attitude and lack of respect for other players that ultimately hurts his game and his team. This has become blatant, and was never so obvious as in the playoffs. Nothing is wrong with him feeling like he’s the best, but to act like there is nothing he can learn from others is short-sighted.
    Crosby, for all that he is over-exposed in the press, will be the first to take responsibility for losses or bad decisions (no matter who goofed), and makes a point of redirecting praise to his teammates. He has matured a great deal since coming to Pittsburgh, no doubt due to Mario mentoring him through these early years.
    Ovechkin would have benefitted greatly by having someone to guide him, but now I don’t know that he would listen even to Fedorov.

  4. Pete - May 13, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    Of all these disputes as who is the best player in the world between Ovie and Crosby, I have watched hockey for more than 30 years now and have seen such player as Guy Lafleur ( another outstanding Canadien ages ago !!), for me, they are totally different players and each has their strength and weakness, although I have to say that Ovie is totally 100% offensive minded and doesn’t know how to play defense at all and Crosby is a more well rounded player, if the CAPS are counting Ovie to win the Stanley cup oneday, Ovie will have to learn that part of the game fast or they will never have a chance !!

  5. Gary - May 13, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    Well Mr. Worley, you have shown who your favorite player in this debate is. Just after the Caps lost game seven to the Habs you put an article on this website titled “Ovechkin faltered when his team needed him most.” Now your blatant bias toward Crosby is obvious. Ovie put up pretty good, not great, numbers against a very good defensive team. Now that Crosby (your boy) has stunk the series up with 1 goal and 4 assists, half the production of Ovie, you say its not his fault. You sir, are a joke and I will now skip over all of your articles on this website. You do not have an objective opinion.

  6. Anonymous - May 13, 2010 at 6:04 PM

    K.B., Well said. Glad the russian rocket is past his prime now. He was a force to reckon with, especially in the playoffs. Whoever played against Federov in his day would make their game plan around defending against him.Ovechkin is one of the best, but his attitude and “me first” will surely end up taking away from a great career. He must learn that an assist on your stats is just as important as a goal. Maybe he took something from the Habs series:Teamwork and selflessness wins games.

  7. Alex is better - May 13, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    Just looking at some stats from the NHL season- two interesting stats come to mind. First, even though many people consider Ovechkin a shoot first, pass second type of player, he had MORE ASSISTS THAN CROSBY. Second, plus/minus for the year- Ovechkin, 2nd in the league @+45, Crosby, 46th in the league, @+15. And about Ovechkin shooting too much, I’ve always heard it said – you can’t score if you don’t shoot

  8. Bill Bara - May 14, 2010 at 4:17 AM

    Being from Pittsburgh and a Penguins fan my entire life, I still have to agree with you. As I said even before going into game 7.. the media BASHED Washington for losing to Montreal and took it to the point to prove that Washington was not even a team built for the playoffs. Now that Pittsburgh also lost, I think it’s time we give all the credit in the world to Montreal.

  9. James - May 14, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    Are you kidding me? Ovi had more assists than goals this season, and many times passed the puck when he SHOULD’VE shot it! And when it was time to name a Captain after Clark got traded, Ovi said he wouldn’t take it unless his team wanted it, and the team voted him captain based on LEADERSHIP!
    Learn your facts.

  10. James - May 14, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    “Ovechkin is one of the best, but his attitude and “me first” will surely end up taking away from a great career. He must learn that an assist on your stats is just as important as a goal. Maybe he took something from the Habs series:Teamwork and selflessness wins games.”
    You fool, he had more ASSISTS than he did GOALS!!!

  11. Paul - May 14, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    There’s four phases of play – transition to attack, attack, transition to defense and defense. Ovechkin’s assists stats just show he’s very good at the attack phase, whether shooting or passing the puck. All in all, I think Crosby is the better player when you consider all four phases.
    But its an interesting and fun argument, for which both sides have good points.
    That said, I noticed no one wanted to jump on my suspicion that Gonchar might have been trying to lose in game 7.

  12. Leon - May 14, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    Everyone needs to leave Fleury alone. He’s only 25. Of course he’s going to make mistakes. Goaltenders mature slower as players than forwards and defensemen. Dominick Hasek and Martin Broudeur werent dominant until their 30’s. Fleury won a Stanley Cup vs. Detroit in a Game 7– Thats incredibly impressive for a 24 year old. Everyone needs to get off his back. He’s still young with alot to learn. How about supporting his development as a player?
    Everyone needs to get over the the Ovechkin/ Crosby thing. Is Gretzky/ Lemieux all over again. They are two different types of players. Just sit back and enjoy and let them settle it on the ice.

  13. Anonymous - May 14, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    Everyone keeps talking about Crosby, Malkin and Fleury but how about the whole defensive unit of the Penguins. Bylsma made a huge mistake when he decided to have Jordan Leopold back on the lineup. Jay McKee brought a physical presence a lot of experience to the team and last a check the team was 4-1 with him in the line up and the loss was an overtime loss. He was a plus 2 in those 5 games while Leopold ended up being a -2 in the playoffs (plus Leopold does not kill penalties. McKee was used during the penalty kill). Also, Goligoski was +3 when McKee was partnering with him. McKee blocked shots all season and provide much needed toughness to a defensive unit that was at best too lose. Bylsma should have kept McKee in the lineupGa

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