Some of these poor decisions were consistently made throughout the year.
First-Defense was suspect throughout this series and throughout the year. Alex Goligoski was the worst defenseman on the ice for the Penguins in the playoffs and the entire season. Not once, in my recollection, was he a healthy scratch.
The defense fell short of the basic goals of shot blocking and clearing the front of the net.
We brought in Jay MCKee, a solid veteran shot blocker, in the offseason. The coaching staff used him sparingly. He would have been an asset during the playoffs and yet he was a healthy scratch, not only in the playoffs but throughout the season.
Second, the Penguins created very little traffic in front of the net throughout the entire year as well as in the playoffs. With the size of Staal and Ponikarovsky, the coaching staff should have used these players and others to create havoc in front of the net.
The same goes for crashing the net. The Penguins have both size and speed and yet they didn't crash the net nearly enough to create chances. This was the story throughout the season and in the playoffs. The Penguins outshot the Habs in the series but Halak was able to see most of them.
Nothing against Halak, he certainly was the better goaltender in this series, but most of the shots he faced he was able to clearly see since there was no traffic in front of him.
Third, preparation can be questioned in the respect that the Penguins had problems with the trap all year. Just look at the series against New Jersey this season . The coaching staff should have recognized that Montreal plays the trap. Much preparation should have gone into a defense against the trap. If there was a game plan to counteract the trap, it surely wasn't executed.
Fourth, much can be said about which big name players didn't step up to the plate in the playoffs and everyone is responsible for how they play. But, did the coaching staff provide all the tools necessary for these players to be successful? That is hard to answer since I am not in the team meetings or at practice everyday.
But it seems that something was missing to motivate and energize the players this playoff season.
A well-prepared and well-coached team will always be successful. The Canadians were certainly that team in this series. The Penguins were not. Hopefully something can be learned from this series by the coaching staff, and they can come back next year and give the fans the exciting style of Penguins hockey they have grown to love.
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