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Pittsburgh San Jose: 3 2, 2 1, 3 2, 3 1, 4 2.That’s simply not good enough to showcase the wholesale panthers jerseys league and its stars. Fans of defense and goaltending shouldn’t fret. I’m not advocating every game be 7 5 or 8 6, although plenty of folks would be thrilled if that were the case. But shouldn’t we get there once in a while? Don’t the NBA and NFL do everything they can to make sure the stars score and are front and center when the most eyeballs are watching? Offense in the NHL’s regular season was at 5.42 goals per game, its lowest rate since 2003 04, or before the first lockout when the league allegedly fixed the trend by clamping down on obstruction. Those days are long gone, of course. But even more than that, coaches and general managers are on a complete defense first kick. It’s job self preservation. Keep games tight, have more chances to win. The offside challenge is one of the worst things to ever come into the NHL. It takes away offense at a time the league needs more. It ruins the fan experience when a goal is scored. But most coaches and GMs are all for it because they feel the heat to survive and don’t want to get beat on a goal that’s offside by a sliver not discernible in real time.
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And, after all, Gary Bettman said here last week the coach’s challenge is “achieving the objectives” the league was looking for. Whatever that means.Asked during this series about the trend away from offense even though he’s coaching a team full of speed and stars Penguins coach Mike Sullivan sounded like, well, a coach. “I think the deeper you get in the playoffs, the better the teams are, the deeper they are, and the harder they defend,” Sullivan said. “As talented as both of these teams are offensively, this is something we’ve said to our team all year long, it doesn’t matter how many goals we score, we have to learn how to defend. We have to learn how to make a commitment to keeping the puck out of our net. “I know this team can score. When we start making a commitment to playing away from the puck, keeping the puck out of our net, now we become a team that’s, in our opinion, a contender.” Admittedly, goaltenders are far more skilled nowadays than in the past. Every team has multiple goaltending coaches in both the NHL and minor league levels. The top teams have three solid pairs of defensemen, and it’s not like you can easily take advantage of the Nos. 5 6 guys on the blueline. Or the fourth line of forwards. They’re not goons who can’t skate. Still, the trend is disturbing in the final. Steven Stamkos didn’t score last year for Tampa and Patrick Kane didn’t connect for Chicago until his Game Six clincher. Rookie Connor Sheary is the only Pittsburgh player with two goals in the first four games of this series. For all his terrific 200 foot play, Sidney Crosby did wholesale panthers jerseys not score. It’s even worse on the San Jose side. The Sharks’ goals in the first four games are two by Justin Braun and one each by Joonas Donskoi, Joel Ward, Patrick Marleau, Tomas Hertl and Melker Karlsson. Which means none for Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture or Brent Burns. “The way hockey goes is all the best players get the recognition,” said Sharks defenseman Marc Eduoard Vlasic. “Obviously, they get points and are on the scoresheet, but sometimes it’s the role players, the depth players that do the damage because everybody’s concentrating on the star players. That’s why both teams have great depth and Pittsburgh has been relying on that throughout the playoffs.” “The top players get the most attention from the better defenders,” Sullivan said. “It doesn’t surprise me that goals are hard to come by because both teams are making a sincere commitment to playing away from the puck. When I say I think it’s the hardest hockey that I’ve witnessed in this league, it seems like both teams have to fight for e