There was a time in the not-so-distant past when I believed that the Pens couldn’t lose. We could be going into the 3rd period down by 4 and I just knew that we would come back and win it. I fondly remember being down 3-0 against the Rangers during the play-offs only to come back and win it. To me, we were a come from behind team, especially because for awhile there we were having trouble holding early leads. In fact, I preferred us to be down going into the final period because that’s when I thought we had our best chance to win. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that way anymore and with good reason.
Last night I heard the startling statistic that the Pens have not won a game at all this season when they are down going into the 3rd period. How could this be? The 3rd is supposed to be our time to shine. We are supposed to go into it and dominate, as if this whole time we have merely been hustling our opponents into thinking we are inferior only to come back and show them what we’re really all about.
We could blame this on the absence of Crosby and Malkin, but they were in the lineup long enough this year to have helped us get a 3rd period victory, so why don’t we have one? This is something that needs to be figured out and corrected with a quickness, because if we can’t come from behind and win we are never going to make it past the first round of the play-offs.
Another thing that concerns me is the number of games that we have won in shoot-outs over the past few weeks. Granted, any victory is a good victory and 2 points are 2 points, but need I remind you that there are no shoot-outs in the play-offs. Anyone who stayed up until 2 in the morning to watch Sykora finally bury one in Detroit’s net knows that, during the play-offs, the clock keeps going until someone scores. So, in order to ensure a long play-off run we need to figure out how to get some goals in the net the old fashioned way.
It doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t, come as a surprise to anyone that a big part of our problem seems to be the power play. For some reason, this is something that has plagued our team season after season. It’s baffling to me but, even with all of that talent on the ice, we just can never seem to score as often as we should when we have the extra man. It’s even gotten to the point where I’d rather we go on the penalty kill than the power play just because I think we have a better chance of getting a shorthanded goal than getting one when we outnumber our opponent.
True, it’s not as if any of this has been a major detriment to our season, considering we’re currently battling the Flyers for first place. However, these are problems that aren’t just going to go away. They’re also problems that, if not solved, could quickly come back to haunt us at the worst possible time. I’m sure that if I’ve noticed it Bylsma and the rest of the coaching staff have noticed it as well. The question is what are they going to do about it? I have no idea, but they better think of something and fast. We don’t have any more time to lose (pun intended).