Penguins Need to Keep the Pedal to the Metal the Entire Game

Matt HunterCorrespondent IOctober 28, 2008

It is the start of the third period and the Penguins are beating their arch nemesis the Capitals, 3-0.  Then they decide to take their foot off the gas, and slowly coast through the light, when they should have gunned it and blew through it.  Due to this style of play the Penguins lost the game 4-3.

It is the start of the third period and the Penguins are beating the Rangers, this time 2-0.  Again, they take their foot off the gas, and find themselves tied 2-2 after regulation, and then lose the game in a shoot-out.

Are you starting to see a resemblance here?  All you have to do is replace the team name and the score. You are still getting a Penguin team who is commanding the game, and on their way to four points total in both games, and then only getting one.  This is not acceptable by any means.  Coach Terrien mentioned this in his post-game interview, after the Penguins threw away their 3-0 lead against the Capitals.

I know that they say that a two-goal lead is the toughest to play with.  Well then score more after you get that two-goal lead.  I have seen this way too many times with the Penguins the past few years. 

They get a lead, and then it seems that they are satisfied with two or three goal, and go into this dump and chase with a horrible neutral zone trap.  Then before you know it, the score is tied, or worse, the Penguins are losing. And then they go from a pretty much guaranteed two points, to struggling just to get one.

The Penguins need to switch up their game plan when they are playing with a lead.  No more of this sit back and just rely on Marc-Andres Fleury to stand on his head and save the game for the team.

Instead, keep the intense offense pressuring the opposition. By doing this, they will be able to keep the puck in the offensive zone more, which ultimately will lead to more opportunities on the power play.

Also, when keeping an up temp style of game going the entire game, you really take the pressure off the goaltender.  Fleury has played awesome this season, and without him in the net the Penguins could have possibly started just like the Flyers did. 

If they continue to play the way they are, Fleury will fatigue a lot more often, and the chances for injury will start to rise.  So by keeping the foot down they not only help the offense out, but this also keeps the goaltender ready, and a lot less irritated when he is only facing nine shots a period instead of 22 or more.

I think if the Penguins make this small switch, and implement it into their game style, they will win a lot more close games, as well as games that they are leading by two or three goals going into the final frame. 

No more sitting back and trying to coast to a win.  The one thing that everybody is taught when playing hockey is to always keep the skates moving. As soon as you stop moving your skates and start coasting, that is when the puck gets by and you are caught flat footed, and before you know it the other team is winning.