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Kipper : The #Pens Need To Become The Initiators Instead Of The Victims

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
Easiest way to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins?
Is is the Trap system?
Is it keeping 2 Defensemen back?
or
Is it getting them off their game by getting under their skin?
While the first 2 certainly have been like kryptonite since Mario and Co. shut out Scotty Bowman from practices, you need the personnel and coaching to accomplish it.
Getting under the Penguins skin? Anyone can do that. You don't need to coach it, you just need to advise it. Last night against the Washington Capitals, that was what happened. Alexander Ovechkin got away with a nasty slash and it unwrapped the Pittsburgh Penguins. The stupid retaliatory shots began, the bad penalties and ultimately the 5 on 3 PP goal that sealed the Pens fate.
This is an ongoing issue with the Pens. It hasn't mattered who the coaches are, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been a team that loses it's composure easily. It usually only takes one player on the opposing team to do something, major or minor and the entire Penguins roster loses itself.
You can't win Championships like that. You can't make it to the Finals with that type of self imploding mentality. At this point, the Pens won't make it a round in the Playoffs playing with this type of discipline.
What's the cure?
The Pens have had guys retaliate by fighting but let's be honest here, nobody is afraid of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nobody cares about taking shots at Kris Letang or any other Penguins players.
Steve Downie and Max LaPierre.
These guys were brought in to get under the opposing teams skin. They were brought in to make the other team take dumb penalties and get them off of their game. So far, neither have done that. What we've seen is Steve Downie become the victim more times than not and take the bad penalties. The Pens "pests" aren't being affective pests, not in the way that Jarrko Ruutu and the early version of Matt Cooke were.
If our players aren't initiating the pesting and getting other teams off of their game, how do the Pens prevent themselves from taking the bait?
Good ol' self discipline.
Let a guy or 2 have their retaliation fights and don't get sucked in to taking dumb penalties out of frustration. Chris Kunitz shouldn't be taking undisciplined penalties late in games out of frustration. It was the same issue the Penguins had with James Neal. While it hurts that the Pens no longer have that enforcer that seemed to keep teams honest like Georges Laraque, Eric Godard, Deryk Engelland.... Gary Roberts.. they have a couple that will fight and won't get the snot beat out of them. Allow them to do their jobs when things get chippy and stay focused.
It's easier said than done but until the Pens learn how to stay disciplined and their pests start becoming effective at getting the opponents off of their games, this team is going to continue to struggle against any team that gets under their skin. Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Penguins, those teams exist in their Division and are most likely going to be in the Playoffs.
If the Pens plan to go beyond a first round exit of the Playoffs, they need to become the initiators, not the victims.

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