Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

January 18, 2013

Penguins hoping a little defense goes a long way

 

PITTSBURGH — Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t even bother to look at the tape.
 
Video evidence of a 5-1 loss to Philadelphia in Game 6 of last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs wasn’t required for the Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender to relive every agonizing moment. He spent the early portions of the offseason worrying about it before permanently deleting it from his memory.
 
“I forgot about the games, but not about what happened,” Fleury said.
 
Good idea.
 
The whipping served as a fitting end to one of the more bizarre postseason series in recent memory. The Flyers cut down the NHL’s highest scoring team by turning every period into a defense-optional shootout, one that exploited Pittsburgh’s inability to commit itself at the end of the ice where Fleury works.
 
Philadelphia scored a whopping 30 goals in six games, a number more fitting than the local rec league than the sometimes brutal — not to mention offensive-stifling — two-month slog to the Stanley Cup.
 
The Penguins know that for all the firepower the game’s most explosive lineup provides, if they don’t shore things up on defense they’ll be home well before the calendar hits June.
 
“You have to learn from that stuff,” forward Pascal Dupuis said. “We’ll try to take the positives from (Philadelphia) and try to build off it.”
 
Given all of a week to put a roster together, don’t expect coach Dan Bylsma to make drastic changes on a team that finished a middling 17th in goals allowed last season. On most nights, a lineup that features reigning league MVP Evgeni Malkin and a finally healthy Sidney Crosby doesn’t need to play lights out defense to win.
 
Just a little, though, could go a long way to helping the Penguins earn a slightly easy road through the playoffs. Pittsburgh narrowly missed out on winning the Atlantic Division title, the difference between being the top seed in the postseason or dropping to fourth and facing their archrivals.

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