Starkey: Pens' offense blazing historic path
TribLIVE Sports Videos
If the Ottawa Senators are to depart the playoff scene Friday night — we're still waiting to see if Daniel Alfredsson goes reverse Mark Messier and guarantees a loss — at least they will have left us with two glorious quotes.
The first occurred after Game 2, courtesy of defenseman Erik Karlsson, who was asked what happened on the play where Sidney Crosby turned him into a human traffic cone.
“Are you blind?” Karlsson said.
Alfredsson, Ottawa's esteemed captain, topped that when asked after Wednesday's Game 4 massacre if his team could win three in a row against the Penguins.
“Probably not,” he said.
Sure, Alfredsson elaborated on that quote, as Penguins coach Dan Bylsma and his players were quick to point out when asked about it Thursday.
But the “probably not” part kind of stands out.
I don't blame Alfredsson. He was either being brutally honest — a rarity in postgame scrums not involving Brooks Orpik — or desperately trying some sort of reverse psychology on his team. It sounded like Penguins winger Matt Cooke suspected the latter.
“I think he's a smart guy,” Cooke said. “I'm sure he has the right intentions and motives behind his comments.”
Either way, here's the cold, hard truth: Nothing short of another Craig Anderson miracle is going to send this series back to Ottawa for Game 6.
The Penguins appear to have broken the will of an extremely willful team. They have poked Pluto-sized holes in the league's second-stingiest defense, lit up the league's best penalty kill to the tune of a 23.8-percent success rate and turned Anderson into a shell of his regular-season self.
Twice, Anderson has taken the skate of shame — pulled from two games after not getting pulled from one all season. The Penguins now have four goalie-knockouts in these playoffs.
So maybe it was Ottawa defenseman Marc Methot who delivered the money quote of the series when he said, “We're up against a monster here.”
The numbers aren't just scary, they're on the verge of becoming unprecedented in this particular millennium.
The Penguins are averaging 4.1 goals through 10 playoff games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the most recent time a team advanced to the third round averaging four goals or better was 1997, when the Colorado Avalanche (4.3) and Philadelphia Flyers (4.1) achieved the feat.
The last team to win a Cup averaging four or more? The 1990 Edmonton Oilers at 4.2.
Doesn't it always seem like talk of these Penguins goes back to those Oilers, even the '90 version without Wayne Gretzky?
Going into the playoffs, people wondered how the Penguins would fare against an airtight defensive team. They're answering that question now, though it's fair to wonder if the Senators are really as airtight as their regular-season numbers would indicate.
The thing about the Penguins is that they clearly reached a different gear in Games 3 and 4. Suddenly, everything was faster. Suddenly, they were consistently and relentlessly dominant, save for a few mental lapses in their zone.
Of the teams still alive, only the Chicago Blackhawks have that same gear — and they're in a bit of trouble at the moment. I also suspect the Penguins have another gear to get to.
James Neal, whose healthy presence changes everything, put it succinctly: “We're a confident group right now.”
They should be. And if the question of the moment now becomes, Can anybody tame this monstrous offense over the course of a seven-game series? I'm fairly confident in my answer:
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 FM. His columns appear Thursdays and Sundays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins see Stars, blanked by Dallas in opening game
- Starkey: Pirates gaining bad big-game rep
- A field day on social media as Pirates’ Rodriguez attacks Gatorade cooler
- Steelers quarterback Vick getting more acquainted with offense
- Kennametal HQ relocation rankles Westmoreland County business leadership
- Steelers hoping to establish run early against San Diego
- Pirates notebook: Fastball command issues hurt Cole against Cubs
- Environmental watchdog sues world’s largest steelmaker over Pennsylvania pollution
- Plans for Excela orthopedic center move forward
- Upper St. Clair lifeguard ordered to stand trial for rape of female lifeguard
- Pennsylvania hardliners mum on GOP House leadership