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Penguins focus on improving defense, patience

Mar 29, 2012, 8:30 AM EDT

Dan Bylsma, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Cooke AP

When you have a roster littered with stars and semi-stars, it’s easy to get seduced into the siren call of a “track meet” style game. Still, it seems that has burned the Pittsburgh Penguins here and there – most notably in an upset loss against the New York Islanders on Tuesday – prompting the team to reassess their game plan, as Brooks Orpik and others told The Associated Press.

“I think you fall into a trap,” Orpik said. “I think especially when you get away with it for a few games. It starts snowballing and you get on a roll and you think it’s going to keep happening.”

“We’ve got to be willing to win 2-0 instead of 6-4, 7-4. When you play good teams it’s tough to win when you play that wide open.”

Even with the Penguins’ treasure trove of talent, the postseason can often be an unfriendly place for high-scoring, loose styles. NHL officials have already resisted calling obstruction penalties more and more as the last few seasons have gone on and that’s only likely to increase as the playoffs come along – which is bad news if Pittsburgh expects to light up the scoreboard.

The good news for that bunch is they’ve been there plenty times before and certainly have shown the ability to grind out ugly wins with Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup.

It’s a mild bummer to say this from an entertainment standpoint, but they might just want to take that star-free mindset into the playoffs despite being chock-full of marquee talent.

  1. jond86 - Mar 29, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    “It’s a mild bummer to say this from an entertainment standpoint..”
    How so? The best games are close, fast paced, hard hitting, and full of grit. Not twinkle toed 10-5 games…we get that nonsense during the all-star break.

    • chizmo - Mar 29, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      The mild bummer is watching as teams that are capable of high scoring attacks play “down” to a clutch and grab game… mild being the operative word there. “Best games” is entirely an opinion, exactly the same thing as saying it’s a mild bummer to see offense partially abandoned for a more defensive mindset.

      Noone denies tight checking games are exciting, but in the playoffs tight checking sometimes equates to boring clutch and grab trap games.

      The point is, Pitt can definitely put together a deep run this year if they play smart and adapt to other teams defensive schemes, rather than simply trying to overpower defenses with run and gun tactics.

    • richie500 - Mar 29, 2012 at 11:17 AM

      This kind of comment is why Mario called hockey a “garage league.” For people that are already hockey fans the grit games are fine, but for the casual fan which hockey needs to keep being successful, they want to see players skate and shoot.
      Clutch and grab sucks, I want to see skill, and there is no way playoff games would be 10-5 that’s exaggerating.

  2. crosberries - Mar 29, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    Yeah who likes scoring when you can have board play?

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