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Homestand Hangover

After last night's game, I went into work this morning with a full 8 hour day ahead of me and plenty of time to think about last night's game. I replayed the game in my mind over and over throughout the day--as best as my memory would allow me--trying to figure out what exactly went wrong. At one point, I thought I had it figured out and when I got home I rewatched parts of the game and sure enough it was right there in front of me. 

It was in front of us all last night that talked about it in the game thread. It was the defense.Quick note: when I say defense, I mean all skaters when the puck is in the defensive zone.  Yes, our good ol' safety net let us down. But it wasn't that the defense was just bad last night, it was horrendous. Credit is due to the Penguins offense for forechecking better than in the previous two games and forcing 7 turnovers but there were numerous times in which the Detroit defenders were out of position. 

Take the first goal for example. I counted at least three problems in the sequence. First, Dan Cleary stops a clearing attempt by teammate Brad Stuart; resulting in Kris Letang taking possession of the puck and throwing it back down low to Malkin on the sideboards. Second, Filppula was far too off of Malkin as the play developed on the boards, allowing Malkin to turn and pass to Talbot. Finally, Stuart couldn't recover in time to play a tight coverage on Talbot; resulting in the one-timer goal. I know Cleary was trying to take possession of the puck to take something down the ice but why not let it clear and force the Pens to clear the zone?

The second goal came on the power play and that's hard to really critique or blame the defense when they're down a man. If I were to do so though, it has to be Kronwall screening his own goalie. During the power play, Detroit failed to win a single face-off and the Penguins were able to keep constant pressure on the defense and wear them out. It didn't help that the Pens almost scored again a minute later off of another turnover and a defender taking his time getting back.

The third goal, and game winner, was another powerplay goal so it's again hard to place blame. It's really hard to place blame when Osgood had Bill Guerin and his own defender (Stuart) screeeing him. The powerplay came about though because of bad defensive play again by the Wings. Jonathan Ericsson got lazy on defense and stopped moving his feet and stuck out an arm as Matt Cooke went by, drawing an interference call. In all honesty, Detroit was lucky that was the only one of its kind called because I counted several lazy plays that could have just as easily been called. I'd rather a player take a hit for delay of game or even cross checking (considering what's called cross-checking these days that is) than something lazy like interference, tripping, or holding; which were the three penalties we were called for.

The back-to-back games didn't seem to affect the Wings offensively but I think it did come back to bite them on the defensive side. The guys were sluggish at times and made some crucial mental mistakes. Like I said before, credit is due to the Penguins offense for adapting to the Detroit defense and coming with a different scheme of attack but the guys in white in red need to step it up defensively as the Pens offense warms up.