Monday, May 3, 2010

Where's Sidney?

Yesterday's win by the Montreal Canadiens over the Pittsburgh Penguins may have you asking that question: Where's Sidney? We have the feeling that he's around here somewhere, like the wandering Waldo with his signature red hat and striped shirt, waving happily from behind a cast of about a thousand people on a single page.

It's said that the Penguins squad doesn't work well without its Captain. It's like those alien guys in the Fifth Element who won't negotiate without their Leader. Fair enough, most teams need their Captain like ships do when they set out to sea. But this doesn't explain the game loss entirely. Crosby's high ankle injury which sidelined him a few years ago wasn't enough to slow down the Pittsburgh machine and Malkin stepped it up big time as alternate Crosby, all while still learning English. That was impressive.

But the Pens game yesterday afternoon was less than impressive. There's the Staal factor, as the loss of the big man was felt. And then there's the Captain seemingly MIA and his Russian counterpart fading off. A lot of effort was put in by everyone else, but it didn't result in goals.

What can this be attributed to?

A couple of smart decisions on the part of the Habs, at least, the smartest of them to start Halak over Price and hopefully put an end to this game of goalie roulette. Halak still has the poise, patience and skill to move the team forward and showing him a little respect and confidence is going to go a long way for the Habs, in this playoffs and well beyond. He is the real reason that they're a contender in this series at all.

Marc-Andre Fleury on the other end of the ice still has the potential to steal a few games, but so far in this whole playoffs, he hasn't had to be much more than adequate. The defense in front of him is so tight and the Pens are so good at blocking shots, there's not that much left for Fleury to do other than stand still and look big.

But the Pens defense in the matinee game was seriously lacking. It seemed as if they were a bit slower than usual going into the neutral zone and that they were giving Montreal a lot more time and space than they should have. The Pens play best when they're not giving anyone respect and the biggest mistake they committed was giving it to the wrong person, namely, Mike Cammaleri. He is one guy that has been so hot in the playoffs so far that you cannot afford to leave him alone anywhere. You have to babysit this guy if you want to move ahead. He's small, sneaky and fast, and good at getting into the zones where people aren't expecting him to be. The Pens have to be more aware of him.

One person with a target on his back? Number 87, Sidney Crosby, but not the one that we're looking for. We're looking for the one who works harder than anyone else, handles the puck like nobody's business and makes overtime miracles happen like the gold medal game winner in Vancouver. Not the one who showed up to play on Sunday, the slow, angry team Captain getting into scraps and throwing his stick and mouthing off from the bench. That's not the Sidney we know and love. That's not the Sidney who wins.

If anyone's spotted that Sidney, could you please have him returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins organization? Preferably before Tuesday.

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