How to Fix the Penguins Before The Second Round
After defeating the Blue Jackets last night in Columbus by a score of 4-3, the Penguins advanced to the second round for the second straight season and will once again be the favorite to win whether they play the New York Rangers or Philadelphia Flyers.
With that said, however, the Penguins showed several flaws in their six-game series with the Blue Jackets. While the flaws did not matter in the end, they did show how the Penguins can be exposed and more importantly, how they can be beaten.
With that in mind, the Penguins need to work on a few things before their second round series starts because if they do not, the team could end up hitting the golf course a lot earlier than anyone expected them to be. For them to avoid that, the team must work on holding a lead.
In hockey, it is said that the two-goal lead is like a kiss of death sometimes. In this series, any kind of lead appeared to be just that for the Penguins.
This was especially apparent in Game 4. The Penguins had a 3-0 lead after the first period, but when all was said and done, the Blue Jackets were able to come back and beat the Penguins 4-3 in overtime.
This was also almost the case last night. Much like they did in Game 4, the Penguins built up a 4-0 lead, only to see the Blue Jackets get themselves to within one goal with just over five minutes to go in the hockey game.
That leads us to something else the team needs to work on and that is developing a killer instinct. Last night, the Penguins had a 4-0 going into the third period and instead of trying to score more goals, the team looked content to not be aggressive, not take chances and seemed fine with just playing back.
This kind of play almost ended up costing them last night and certainly costed them in their overtime loss in Game 4. The Penguins scored three in the first and did not score a goal the rest of the game and instead watched the Blue Jackets claw their way back into the game and eventually, finish them off in overtime.
Marc-Andre Fleury also needs to make sure that his game is rock solid. Fleury played much better in both last night's game and in Game 5, but overall, Fleury needs to tighten up his game.
For Fleury, this means controlling his rebounds, not allowing pucks to go through him and more importantly, coming up with the big save when his team needs one. It also means that his head is in the right place and that his confidence is high.