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06-26-2013, 11:16 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Boonies
Country: United States
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I posted earlier in this thread that I thought the Pens aren't as far away as some of you think. My rationale was drawn from what happened with the Hawks in 2011 and 2012 where they lost against Vancouver and then Phoenix, respectively, in the 1st round. I noted that in both 1st round exits, the Hawks weren't as far away as myself and most other Hawks fans thought they were and lamented about for months on end afterward. Against the howling of most of Blackhawk nation - Stan Bowman stayed the course and only changed a few peripheral things - like bringing in Rozsival as the #6 d-man and picking up Handzus at the deadline.

The main difference was better health going down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs - AND really buying into the 5-man unit structure that was backbone of the way they played all season. All season long the players would comment on the 5 guys on the ice had to play as a unit. It seems simplistic - wouldn't every team want to play as a unit? Of course - but it was something that was stressed ALL the time and practiced ALL the time. When they would have a bad defensive game, you could see the gap between the d-men and backchecking forwards was not tight enough and a fire drill would result.

And it was stressed on offense too with the d-man on the puck side pinching to help keep possession in the o-zone while the other d-man and weak side forward adjusted up to cover. It allowed the forwards more chances to force turnovers and create more scoring chances. It also wore down the opponents d-men which also resulted in more turnovers. I knew the Hawks led the league in takeaways this season but I looked it up and the Hawks had 467 whereas the Pens were 29th with only 227.

If I had to pinpoint one thing that made the biggest difference in beating Boston, it was the relentless tracking and attacking of the puck and I think it did wear down Chara and Seidenberg and open up scoring chances that weren't there when the Pens played Boston.

Long story but in summary I think the Pens have the players to win it all, but they have to play a more cohesive team game.

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