Last night a loud exhale could be heard across the Penguin Nation.
Finally, the Pens played a game with purpose and determination...and won.
There is hope that these guys can right the ship in time for the playoffs afterall.
The Penguins adopted a more conservative approach to last night's game, using a variation on the neutral zone trap...it really amounts to a 1-2-2 system. Bascially what it means is that one forward forchecks while the other two remain in the neutral zone (or close to it)... and the defenders remain behind them.
The idea of such a system is that you are not supposed to commit (or over commit), when trying to create offensive chances, until you have obtained posession of the puck. It's a passive aggressive type approach that stresses player positioning and when implemented correctly, cuts down on an opponents ability to navigate the neutral zone. This usually this means less "end to end" type chances as well as good counter attack opportunities should you intercept your opponent.
It worked like a charm.
The key ingredient to this approach and that of ANY approach a team chooses, is that it takes a complete BUY-IN from everybody on the team for it to work. The Penguins had that last night and it was a welcomed sign.
I know the Flyers had a long home winnig streak, and were probably due for a loss, but there is no denying that the Penguins out played the Flyers for much of the game. That is something we have seen happen very rarely in the last few weeks.
I know Miro Satan has been on the bad end of many comments over the last month or so, but last night I actually saw him make a very nice play in his own zone, on the back check, and I thought he looked productive in the offensive zone too.
Unlike the win we had against the Thrashers a few games back, this win came against a quality, playoff bound opponent --- and it seemed a lot more like a sign of things to come than a flash in the pan. It's definitely something that we would hope to see...oh...I don't know...about 25-30 more times over the rest of the regular season.
As it turns out, we won't have to wait long to find out...Alex Ovechkin and the Flailing Semin arrive at the igloo tonight. Let's see if the Pens can start a winning streak and keep the Caps on their current losing streak.