No one is expecting us to say nice, fuzzy things right now. Which is good, because we aren't going to deliver them. This isn't a Cobra Scorpion Whiskey situation. This isn't a staying-positive-will-get-us-everywhere moment. This is a time to do exactly what our team needs to do - deal with the situation at hand, adjust accordingly, and try to stop being so goddamn smug.
The internet is a minefield for those of you wanting nothing but rah-rah garbage. If that's you, look away. We'll bring that noise back for the next game. But we will add in kitten gifs tonight, for those of you who need it.
This game looked scary from the beginning. No dark clouds started swirling right away, but they certainly loomed off in the distance.
We want to be angrier at the Isles, but we can't. They have been working hard, taking bad angle shots, recognizing our weaknesses and capitalizing. If we really want to place any of our rage on someone other than the Pens, we can go ahead and do that for the Isles fans that thought it was good form to cheer when Crosby took a nasty puck to the collarbone area. Truly classless. We aren't saying Penguins fans haven't cheered injuries, but we've never seen it happen without other fans nearby making a face and loudly suggesting that they not do it. When half of your arena is cheering an injury of a player, you need to seriously reevaluate your culture. *shrug* Or maybe that's just us.
But that's diversion. Thinking about anything the Isles did, anything their fans did, anything the refs did...that's all escapism. We don't blame anyone who wants to partake, because the reality is tough. And the reality is that this team - the Penguins team we saw tonight - is familiar. Not the team we know and love, not the team that has won our hearts through struggle and strife and heroics, but a team we see when our ego rears its ugly head. We saw this team last season against the Flyers.
Don't get us wrong, we understand that we're overreacting just a smidge. But we're allowed to do that because this is playoff season and we are overly emotionally involved.
In theory and in practice the Isles should not be the worst challenge for us. We saw this in the second with a terrible line change that threw a 2-on-1 into our laps, and you know what, we capitalized because it was given to us. And we did a lot of awesome stuff tonight. We answered quickly, we were strong in their zone fairly often. Malkin was animal-esque at times, Eaton laid down his life for the team, Kunitz was just....well. Kunitz was incredible.
But we couldn't clear our zone. We were careless around the boards. The turnovers were disgusting. We were exchanging looking for assuming which is some cocky nonsense. Arrogance lost this game for us. And thank goodness, because if we had won, maybe no one would have noticed.
MAF was running scared this game. Lots of bad moves. I called in some differing opinions on this one, because as natural MAF supporters, we need alternate opinions sometimes. @WillyumR and his offensively perfect wife @kimskitchensink are saviors for interesting and competent views on hockey, so I asked for an opinion, and Will was kind enough to give us his opinion:
"It's not just the awful goals. I think the team looks tentative and scared. And my completely, mostly unsubstantiated guess, is that it's because they know any scoring chance against could go in. Playing on shitty beer league teams, I get that feeling when we have a scrub backup in goal. You play a little scared, a little less aggressive, a little more hesitant. That's what the Pens look like to me."
It's a good perspective. As pro-MAFers, we see this tentativeness on both sides. We think that the team scares MAF (for allowing so much horrible shit to happen near him) and that MAF scares the team (because of the really abysmal goals he's allowed.) Whatever the case, koun wouldn't be a bad choice for Thursday. Something has to change.
That said, we aren't GMs. We aren't coaches. We aren't even the most incredibly analytic fans. And we trust our team. Not only do we trust them with choices like who to scratch and who to put in...we trust them with understanding the issues and correcting them. We trust them with locking down their emotions and attitudes and taking this series back into our own hands. They understand it all waaaay better than we do. This is speculative. This is reactionary. This is being a fan.
Maybe you disagree with all of this. That's fine. But we're all in the same boat - feelings and expectations and theories and, in most of our cases, lots of booze. The point is that the Penguins know what is happening. They don't need our opinions. We just hash those out on our own to make ourselves understand what is happening in the locker room conversations we so wish we were privy to.
We're disappointed, but not as much as the guys are with themselves. We can take this series and then forget it like the bad dream it seems like thus far. We have everything we need, we just need
Never losing again.