Following a 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes last night, people can make all the excuses they want for the Penguins due to injuries, but any General Manager in hockey still would have taken the Penguins roster on the ice last night over the Coyotes roster.
Playing a Western Conference team who played the previous night, the Penguins lackluster effort vs Phoenix was concerning and bad trends continued.
Among them was three offensive zone penalties (James Neal, Sidney Crosby, Jussi Jokinen) and the Penguins top players are good for at least two a game, especially when Evgeni Malkin is playing, and Jussi Jokinen ended up being the scapegoat afterwards as Mikkel Boedker scored the game winning goal just as Jokinen’s retaliation penalty ended.
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma made it a point to criticize Jokinen through the media for his actions afterwards.
“It’s in the offensive zone…..“It’s retaliatory. It’s undisciplined,” Bylsma said of Jokinen’s penalty just past the mid-way point of the second period. “It’s slashing the back of the legs. We talk about lack of composure. That’s retaliating for a hit, a cross check to his back, but he makes the play. He’s 200 feet from our goalie. That’s the one that ends up in the back of our net…… The undisciplined penalty there was the difference in the game.”
The truth is Bylsma is all talk. Criticizing Jokinen can be laughed at because there was no accountability from Bylsma behind the bench in the immediate aftermath of Jokinen’s penalty.
Jokinen came out of the box at 13:18 of the period on the Boedker goal. Jokinen’s next shift was a 1:28 later at 14:36 of the second period. Jokinen would take one more shift in the period and had 7 shifts in the third period, which is what he averaged in the first and second period.
Bylsma criticizing Jokinen afterwards will have no impact on this team because there is never any action taken on the ice when it comes to a legitimate player on this team. It’s easy to bench a Simon Despres or a marginal player but what has weight is having the guts to bench a James Neal or Evgeni Malkin for retaliation/offensive zone penalties which continue to plague this team.
And when I’m talking about benching a player for unnecessary penalties, I’m talking about benching that player for a period or so.
Michel Therrien has no problem doing that in Montreal with PK Subban. It sends a message to everyone else on the team and brings accountability that Therrien is the boss. Therrien is far from a great coach and has an expiration date but when you’re coaching a star player or multiple star players, you can’t let them be showing up to the rink everyday and feeling that they can do anything they want on the ice.
That is one of the Penguins organizations biggest faults since winning the Cup in 2009.
In Pittsburgh the stars get to run wild and do what they want because they know there is going to be no backlash from the coaches or even management who prioritize keeping the star players comfortable and happy.