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Poll: Let’s play the Penguins blame game

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A lot of bold statements and glum descriptions will flow from the Pittsburgh Penguins after a second gnawing defeat (this time 8-5) to the Philadelphia Flyers. While the stunned silence of the Consol Energy Center crowd speaks volumes, there will be quite the cacophony of criticisms in the next couple days.

Really, there are a lot of potential culprits, so I thought I’d turn to PHT readers for the ultimate answer on who’s most to blame for the Penguins entering Philly in a scary 2-0 hole.

  • Marc-Andre Fleury: For all the trouble Ilya Bryzgalov’s had, here’s a selective stat that hurts: he hasn’t given up a lead yet. Fleury has given up plenty, but Game 2 was especially rough: he allowed seven goals on 30 shots as the Flyers made it look easy.
  • Kris Letang and the defense in general: Of course, Philly is carving up “MAF” because of some alarmingly lax defense from the Penguins. It’s not fair to blame Letang when it seems like the entire team is falling apart, yet as the leader of the defensive unit, he’s likely to be the face of such criticism.
  • Dan Bylsma: Of course, you could also make the argument that the 2011 Jack Adams winner is getting thoroughly out-coached. While Peter Laviolette looks like a genius by staying with Bryzgalov and taking some well-timed time outs (redundant?) one might argue that the Penguins are getting “sucked in” to the Flyers’ aggressive style. One really cannot argue that Pittsburgh is playing horribly with leads. Some of that falls at the coaches dress shoes – it’s up to you to decide how much.
  • Star scorers not named Sidney Crosby?: I’m placing this category under “patently ridiculous,” but I wouldn’t be surprised to see an argument made there. Evgeni Malkin and James Neal had two assist apiece but matching -4 ratings; Chris Kunitz scored twice but had a -5. That might be material for some blame.
  • Penguins GM Ray Shero?: Another ridiculous (but kind of funny in a “Try to make that point with a straight face” sort of way) idea, but some people will bristle at the fact that Jaromir Jagr scored the game-winner while Maxime Talbot made his presence felt with a goal and an assist. Some will, quite amusingly, say that the Penguins could have had one or both on their side.

OK, so that was sort of a fun little exercise in reckless finger-pointing, wasn’t it? Go ahead and choose the guiltiest party in the poll and comments – there’s a write-in candidate in case I missed a spot with all the broad strokes.

Oshie’s hat trick lets Caps just barely squeak by Penguins in OT

Oshie OT goal
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What a start.

This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.

This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.

What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:

This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.

There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.

Twice:

If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.

NOTES:

Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.

— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.

— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.

— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.

— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.

Video: Wilson delivers late, knee-on-knee hit to Sheary

Wilson hit
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Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.

You can see that incident below:

Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.

Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.

This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.

In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.

Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints

Video: Penguins, Caps combine for three goals in 90 seconds

Oshie goal
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For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.

Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.

In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:

After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

Beagle
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Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: