Monday, January 21, 2008

Therrien Time

Though I hate the Capitals, tonight's hockey game was a memorable one. Some great scoring from great players on both teams and, for the Pens, some solid contributions from role players like Talbot and Malone.

Any time a team gets spread thin like the Pens are now, talking heads normally discuss how a team has to "come together" or "rally around their fallen leaders" or get players to "step up". I think it is undeniable though that the biggest burden from such a situation falls on the coach. I'm alright with Therrien starting Sabu tonight despite his home struggles, coming off a shutout it would be tough to sit him down. One call that left me wondering "what if", though: the decision to leave Malkin out of the shootout. Malkin does have a horrible track record on shootouts - he was 3 for 12 last year and Lange said his stats for this year tonight but I forget.

But we can all agree that since Crosby has gone down, Malkin has morphed into a new type of problem for other teams. Does this affect his shootout efficiency? Maybe not. But it would have meant a hell of a lot in the intangibles department if Therrien had said "You know what? With Sidney out, you're our guy. You carry us. We go as you go. Rifle one into the twine." For a guy that doesn't speak English very well, I think a show of trust like that would be as big an endorsement as a player can get, tied at 5 in a shootout at home with your star player out. Yeah, so he likely would have taken Ruutu's spot and negated our only goal. But I thought that Therrien had a chance tonight to put the onus on a player with a newly found confidence, a chance that would have me more intrigued about the long term effects than the short term ones. Irregardless, more tough decisions are going to come Therrien's way and heres hoping he can take the risks necessary to keep the team chugging along.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

What if Malkin misses too though? Then how is his confidence? It's a tough call, although I'm inclined to agree with you and go for the Disney moment.

Anonymous said...

Sabu actually started tonight but got pulled after the Caps scored their 4th goal.

Pat said...

Yeah I don't know why I said that - i meant to say that the switch to Conklin was a good one since Sabu never wins at home. Thats why you dont write recaps two minutes after watching the game.

Sam said...

I agree in the long run it would have probably been better to give Malkin the chance. Even if he misses the guy will be that much more hungry to prove to the world how valuable he is, or maybe incites him to actually work on shootout moves during or after practice.

Malkin looks superb with Malone and Sykora. If we pick up that extra scoring winger imagine the offensive output we could have with an Army-Sid-New Guy, and Malone-Malkin-Sykora top two lines. Staal is turning into a defensive juggernaut for the 3rd line, and we have all the parts for a cycling/instigating 4th line.

The Duke from Dukes Court said...

Gino has enough extra responsibility filling in for Sid we don’t need to put him out for shootouts when we have other better options.

Shootout Master said...

I think Malkin could be that better option for one thing. That way I like to look at it though is that Big Ben has choked in a couple games in his career, most notably the super bowl and the Jags game (I'm excluding the Pats game due to his experience level). But if I had a choice between Ben, who is superb in all facets of the game except for some high pressure situations, a middling QB who has enough talent to start in the league and has had great playoff games throughout his career, I'd still choose Ben. Why? Because you know he has the talent to do it, and if you ever expect to count on this guy you better trust him in the most crucial situations, or he isn't a superstar. A couple points lost due to Malkin struggling in shootouts is worth him finding out how to score in those situations and from the confidence level standpoint that Therrien would show he has in him.

Pat said...

Couldn't agree more shootout master. I wrote another post above just as you were writing this. Check it out.