It sounds strange to say, but the Pittsburgh Penguins had a great deal of success playing a version of the neutral zone trap last night.
The rigid, defensive-minded system clearly frustrated the Flyers, and the Penguins were able to stay focused and win what was possibly their most complete game of the season.
Can they do the same tonight?
The Washington Capitals are definitely an offensive force. Alexander Ovechkin is third in league scoring and second in goals scored. The Capitals are the third-highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference. Keeping them in check will definitely be a tall task.
Is it possible?
I believe it is.
While it's true that the Capitals and Ovechkin are offensive powers, the team the Penguins defeated last night - the Philadelphia Flyers - are the second-highest scoring team in the conference and Jeff Carter of the Flyers is the only player who has scored goals than Ovechkin.
So the Penguins have already proven that their version of the trap can be successful against high-powered offensive opponents.
Additionally, the Capitals have struggled against defensive-minded teams this season. They have a 1-2 record against the New Jersey Devils and they lost to the Minnesota Wild in their only meeting this season.
Of course, one major question is whether or not the Penguins can actually maintain the level of focus and commitment necessary to play a 1-2-2 system for the second-straight game.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have not shown a great deal of dedication this year and their ability to play a rigid system has not been displayed very often. In fact, their inability to focus and commit to a strong strategy is one of the reasons they have struggled recently.
Last night's 60-minute effort was the Penguins' most solid effort this season. The rest of the year has been occasional moments of brilliance surrounded by a sea of mediocrity. Trying to play a strong system two nights in a row against two of the best offensive teams in the conference will be a big test for the Pens.
Have they realised that unless they focus and show some serious dedication the playoffs are a dream? Or was last night simply a one-off performance?
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Related Posts : defense, washington capitals