Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Not Just Offensive

Remember this guy? Yeah, you probably do. He's a pretty important piece of the puzzle for the defending Stanley Cup Champions. He has led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals over the last two seasons, and has come away as a winner once. He backstops the defence, and makes some pretty incredible saves thanks to his quickness, flexibility, and hockey acumen.

There were some questions as to the Penguins ability to play more defensive after their Game Two loss against the Canadiens, and I'd say a response has been sent. After all, Fleury and the Penguins shut out the Canadiens tonight by a 2-0 score. That's a pretty good defensive effort, I'd say.

By no means did the Penguins play a perfect game in their defensive zone. Montreal had chances, including several that appeared to be sure goals, but were turned away by Fleury. Several good opportunities were shot wide by Montreal's snipers, most notably Mike Cammalleri's partial breakaway that he fired high and wide in the first period. The fact remains that the Penguins still made mistakes, but Fleury was there to bail him out just as any good goaltender would be.

If anyone thought this series would be an all-offence Penguins team against an all-defence Canadiens team, we were witnesses tonight as to why the Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Sure, they can score. We all know that. But they showed that they have the defensive game that can shut down a team when necessary.

The 2-1 series lead that Pittsburgh currently owns has them back in the driver's seat. And if they continue to play relatively good defensive hockey, the next few games should pose headaches for Montreal's attack.

As the saying goes, defence wins championships. The Penguins showed that last season against Washington and Detroit. And it appears they are rediscovering that work ethic as the playoffs go deeper. Will there be a repeat?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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