Yesterday I wrote about how I will stand by my team no matter what. That is true. But today…this was not my team. I don’t know who these guys were. But they were not the Penguins.
Gutless. Arrogant. Punk. Disgrace. Classless. All of these words and more have been slung at the Pens since the beginning of the month. I defended most of it. But today? I saw ALL of it.
I don’t need to do a game play by play. You all saw it. We know what happened. The past two games, it was like, okay. Dan Bylsma needs to fix these lines, get the power play fixed and get our defense motivated because something isn’t working here, but they can bounce back and hopefully at least split the games in Philly and take it to seven games if necessary.
After today, these team deserves to get swept. Period. Where is your honor and dignity? Where is your respect for the game? You play for an organization who has been on the podium for a YEAR speaking out against games like today. The Brawl on Long Island was not the Pens fault. But today, the Pens acted with the same amount of gutless, reckless behavior as the Isles.
Speaking of the Isles, let’s start with Arron Asham.
Brayden Schenn may have acted like a prick a few times in the past few times the Pens and Flyers have met, but his hit on Paul Martin was clean. Did Asham have a conference call with Trevor Gillies this morning over breakfast? Because what he did to Schenn was just as deplorable as what Gillies did to Eric Tangradi.
If that move doesn’t earn Asham a one-way ticket out of Pittsburgh in the off season, then I have zero ability to defend the Penguins organization as not acting with utter hypocrisy. Asham needs to be suspended and not just one of these one game joke of a suspensions. He needs a suspension of Matt Cooke caliber. Take it into next season, wherever he may land because I don’t think Mario will allow him a renewal of his contract. Nice knowing ya, Asham.
This team needed Asham in the playoffs. He plays hard and comes to work ready to go. This was foul.
Then there is James “The Real Deal Fuckin” Neal. (I hardly ever use profanity on my blog, but today I take exception.) Neal is invisible for Games 1 and 2, with the exception of a few fantastic, CLEAN hits. He scores two goals today, but also…
You ran Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. And chaos ensued. Both hits were blatant and dirty. Neal after the game attempted to explain himself that when it came to the Couturier hit, that he tried to let up and wasn’t sure if Couts had the puck or not. Head shot city on this. He head shotted Giroux as well. Of all teams to be making dirty headshots, man. Upward motion and he left his feet. We cry all the time about Ovechkin leaving his feet so I will not defend Neal’s hit on Couturier at all.
Not ONE Flyer headshotted one of our players when they had the chance. This is completely to their credit.
James Neal should be suspended into next season. Without question.
Craig Adams…pulling hair? We all made fun of Scott Hartnell for biting Kris Letang, but really man? What Harvard text book is that move in? Adams will likely face suspension. Yes, the hairpulling may have been incidental because Hartnell has a ton of it, but still. Per Seth Rorabaugh at Empty Netters (coming up huge Tweeting all of the Rules the Pens broke so I didn’t have to go digging myself): Per rule 46.22, Adams is “suspended for one game, pending a review of the incident” for that instigator penalty. (Rule 46: Fighting)
Kris Letang, a player that deserves to be called elite, has also been fairly abysmal this series. The Pens NEED Letang. I mean need him like they need oxygen. And what does he do? Gets ejected from the game in the first period for fighting with Kimmo Timonen (who also served a game misconduct).
Get some discipline, Letang. Get a hold of yourself.
**EDIT** Adding in, because I was so furious when I was writing this, I completely forgot about Letang “Shhh”ing the crowd. NOT the time man…this is why we get called arrogant. Totally WRONG context of the game for that move.
I’m not done calling people out.
Oh, Captain. My, Captain. Where was our fearless leader today? Where was the man that leads the Penguins? The face of the franchise. The face of the league. The poster boy for banning headshots and cleaning up the game so that it maintains its integrity.
Oh, he was busy mucking it and pulling bitch moves like stabbing at Ilya Bryzgalov with his stick, throwing Kimmo’s glove and fighting with Giroux, the Alternate Captain of HIS team in Pronger’s absence. Then getting into it with guys at the end of the game following the Neal/Giroux debacle. Thank you, Crosby. Most of the scrums today were started by you, our leader or were the direct result of something you did.
Sorry to say it, but this team was better without Crosby. I thought maybe, just maybe it was him being miscoached, mishandled, misused. No. When Crosby is on the ice, this is Sidney Crosby’s Penguins. And the fans are proof of this. “This is HIS team. This is Sid’s team, guys! This is Sid’s team! He is the Penguins.” And if any of his little fan club members deny this, I’ll show you a room full of liars.
I said the other day that this team could win a Cup without Crosby. I said all season that this team could win a Cup without Crosby. I said LAST season this team could win a Stanley Cup without Crosby. Now they have to learn to win one with him and honestly, they need to learn to play with him, and this isn’t the team’s fault…
Last but not least, Head Coach Dan Bylsma ought to be fired for today. Dead serious. He has been outcoached by Peter Laviolette every step of the way.
This team is built into individuals and what individuals can do. And it is all built around the key players, rather than developing the team together (which is the Capitals biggest problem). I was so blinded by the talent of this team that it took until the last month for me to see it for myself. The Pens are the Capitals right now. A team with no leader, no cohesion, no chemistry.
They had it for a little while. They found an identity. That identity is gone.
This team lacks discipline. A system was found that made this team work with ALL of its parts (Crosby included) and Bylsma decided to shake things up that didn’t need moved (as I stated in other blogs over the past two or three weeks).
The Pens didn’t win a Cup playing Bylsma’s game. They won playing still under the direction that Michel Therrien pointed them in. Their discipline is gone. Someone needs to come in and set it straight and I don’t know that Bylsma is the man to do it.
This is the Pens right now…
To a T.
The most sad part of all of this is that the Flyers aren’t even playing fantastic hockey. They aren’t doing anything special or out of the ordinary. This isn’t a case of the Flyers are some elite team (when really talent wise and ability wise, the Pens and Flyers are about even) and the Pens are just falling apart or are injured. The Pens are just a mess.
The Pens were favored to win the Stanley Cup by almost every analyst. No one could have predicted this. I am friends with many Flyers fans and they all feel that this series was anyones to take. That both teams had just a good a chance as the other. It would come down to who could score more. The Flyers shouldn’t be outscoring every night. Not like this.
These goals aren’t even that magnificent, most of the them. They are soft and many gift wrapped by a Pens defenseman handing them the puck or someone causing an awful turnover and leaving Marc-Andre Fleury alone to fend off breakaway goals. (Which are all about 50/50 chance of making a save.)
Get back to being the Pens. You guys aren’t the Pens. I have no idea who you are, but I will be here when you come back. I will be here, I promise. Arms wide open, ready for you. But you need to figure out how to be the Penguins because this is disgusting. It’s an embarrassment. It is an abomination.
I love you, Penguins. I do. But today, you broke my heart. You disappointed me and thousands of others and not because you didn’t win. Not because you didn’t try. It was because you didn’t care.
When you’re done with this, read what Dejan Kovacevic had to say… Link here