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Pens may finally have solved Osgood

Penguins/NHL Videos

By Mike Prisuta
Saturday, May 31, 2008

Upon reporting for work Friday at Mellon Arena, Chris Osgood disembarked the Detroit Red Wings' team bus and spent about five minutes signing autographs for fans.

Penguins fans, mostly.

He may no longer be impenetrable as far as the Stanley Cup final is concerned, but Osgood remains unflappable.

Still, the three goals the Penguins scored on him in Game 3 were significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which was they added up to just enough for the Penguins to secure a had-to-have-it, 3-2 victory.

Now, three games in, the Penguins have been frustrated by Osgood, and they have gotten to him in this series.

Although it's been more of the former and less of the latter, the Penguins may have solved Osgood -- and the defensive wall the Red Wings had been throwing up in front of him -- just in time.

In addition to the two goals from in close by Sidney Crosby and Adam Hall banking a puck off Osgood's backside, the Penguins had some incredible looks in Game 3 that they were unable to convert.

Evgeni Malkin fired wide on a backhand with Osgood down and out in the first period's final minute.

Marian Hossa missed wide with Osgood in a similar position 1.5 seconds before the break.

In the second period, Gary Roberts missed on a wraparound backhand.

In the third period, Hossa hit a post.

The Penguins fired 24 shots on net in Game 3 -- their highest total of the series.

But they also had 13 shots blocked and 15 that missed the target -- both also constituting series highs.

As the series progresses, the Penguins are succeeding in getting more pucks on net, which was their intention all along.

Could they also be coming to grips with the best method of actually getting pucks into the net?

Osgood is a relentless challenger of shooters, but on several occasions in Game 3, he appeared to struggle when moving laterally.

So, the question for the Penguins heading into Game 4 has become one involving quantity or quality.

Do they continue to fire away at every opportunity in search of rebounds and "dirty" goals, or do they try to take advantage of Osgood's aggressiveness or his relative post-to-post issues by making the extra pass?

The answer might be yes to both.

When playing five-on-five, getting pucks to the net is never a bad idea.

But when they're on the power play, the Penguins' ability to move the puck and create opportunities for accomplished finishers figures to eventually get to Osgood.

At least that's the way Sidney Crosby has it figured for a power-play unit that has allowed as many goals as it's scored (one each) in 11 mostly frustrating opportunities.

"I'm not concerned at all," Crosby said. "We've had some good chances. The puck hasn't gone in. We're doing the right things, and the work ethic is there. I'm a big believer, if you keep doing the right things, eventually it will turn around.

"We were able to win the last game, and hopefully, next game, that could be the difference."

The Pens' power play will click and contribute at some point.

If that happens tonight, it's a whole new series.

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