It may seem when things aren't going so well that I am more of a "glass is half empty" than a "glass is half full" kind of guy.
Three games into this season...and after watching some mistake filled play...I was already calling for benching Malkin and Crosby...like that was really going to happen.
I have a tendency, from years of playing sports..and really hating to lose...to sometimes jump the gun on how urgent something is. But after a lot of trial an error, I have come to realize that it's better to overreact a little in the beginning and ask for forgiveness later, than it is to just sit quietly and hope things work themselves out.
Of course, I suggested a few other things beside benching Crosby and Malkin...and to my surprise coach Dan must have been thinking the same way.
First on my list was to let Brent Johnson start a few games. The theory here was that Fleury wasn't getting the job done AND the guys around him were starting to be affected by it. Three straight starts and three straight wins for Johnson have put the Penguins in a much better mood than they were a week ago. During this streak, the first 3 game winning streak in a long time for this club, Johnson has been just what the doctor ordered...and then some. He's made just about every save he was supposed to and a few he had no business making. Most importantly, his play seems to have stabilized the team.
Second, I called for a simplification of the power play to more of a "shoot first, ask questions later" approach. Although I wouldn't quite characterize the current power play exactly in that manner, it is apparent that getting shots off quicker has become more of a priority. At least now they move the puck with an urgeny that suggests they really WANT to shoot...not as if they are waiting to see if they should shoot. Add into that, the increased role of the second power play unit and I think this area of play is certainly moving in the right direction.
Finally, I was hoping for more structured play from everyone. This one is tough to gauge...mostly because you really only notice poor structure (aside from my sentences) when teams are losing...when they are winning it just seems like everybody is where they need to be (or is that what leads to winning...the chicken or the egg all over again). I will say this much, I have noticed better positioning by the forwards...especially with puck side support in the offensive and neutral zones. It seems like there has been a more concentrated effort on assigments.
All those things seem to have moved this team past a small hurdle...but now they face another.
With Marc Andre Fleury slated to start tonight against the Predators, the Penguins will be challanged to continue their new found success while he is in the crease.
The glass....half empty...or half full?
Surely, half full from the teams point of view and how they have played in the past few games. They don't need to do anything except what they have been doing.
How about Fleury...empty or full?
This is where the real answer lies. Certainly, on a personal level, Fleury is a half full kind of guy most of the time. What you read about him suggests he is approachable, easy going and very likeable. The kind of guy players like to play for. A positive, optimistic guy in the room.
And certainly from a skill and potential standpoint...the glass is more than half full with Fleury.
But tonight it's all about filling the glass all the way back up...as a team. If Fleury can do his part...and the team can do theirs...then we can all get on with enjoying the rest of this season...and maybe a cup full of champange at the end of it.