Lessons Learned? A needed Defensive Overhaul for Penguins in 19-20 puts the microscope squarely on Kris Letang’s future in PIT

 

Changing the Core starts with a major defensive overhaul How did the Penguins not come out of Round 1 with at least one win? “I don’t have an answer for it,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “The reality is we win as a group and we lose a group and we’re all a part of it. We’ve all got to take responsibility. It’s disappointing. We had high expectations of this team. We believe we have good players and we have the potential to be a good team, and we obviously did not play well enough to win.” What matters into the summer and next season on the ice is whether the New York Islanders four game sweep of the Penguins will actually be a lesson learned for the entire Penguins organization from management, coaches to the players? The Penguins after their four game exit were at least saying all the rightRead More »

Game 4: It’s a big night for Mike Sullivan to try to get this tuned out group to buy-in and execute needed adjustments

 

  Game 4 Pre-Game Buzz Will the Penguins really go down this quietly? What continues to be so stunning from the Penguins through three games is not just how they’ve been out-classed, out-performed in all three zones, but how hap-less they’ve been with no pushback as the noise is getting louder and louder over the last 24 hours that some in the room can’t wait for this season to end. And that type of talk isn’t about some 4th liners getting 7-8 minutes a night. That’s what makes tonight so interesting on whether there’s actually going to be a pushback from the Penguins and a group that comes out and plays with some actual pride. If they fall in Game 4, will it be going down swinging or just another Game 3 ‘whatever’ attitude? The first 5-7 minutes could tell us a lot on the Penguins care level. For howRead More »

Game 3 What We Learned: On the brink with an identity crisis and no buy-in

 

GAME 3 WHAT WE LEARNED Do the Penguins have any interest in even putting up a fight Tuesday night to send the series back to Long Island or have they mentally checked out? It’s a valid question after the Penguins 4-1 loss in Game 3. The Islanders have not only out-classed the Penguins in nearly every area through three games, today’s loss was so crushing in how there was just no fight, no pushback from the Penguins. Some of the signs were there in Game 2 and that continued in Game 3. This team is stale and mis-managed but when the going got tough today, the Penguins just called it a day. Pittsburgh managed just three shots in the final 10 minutes of the third third period, coincidingly the Islanders took a 3-1 lead at 10:27 of the third period and put an exclamation point on Game 3. Mike Sullivan,Read More »

Game 2 What We Learned: Alarm Sirens are now going off in Pittsburgh

 

Game 2: What We Learned They say a series doesn’t start until the road team wins. That’s about the only logic the Penguins can fall back on after a 3-1 loss to the Islanders in Game 2. Game 2 was very alarming for the Penguins as the Islanders have taken control of the series. Most concerning is the Islanders pre-series strength’s of a speed, energy game combined with a tight defensive structure have not only out-shined the Penguins strengths of being a much more talented hockey club through two games, the Islanders have even been the superior team in pushing the pace. They’ve dictated the style of play while also being able to beat the Penguins at their own game in pushing the play off the rush. Through two games the Penguins have had about one period, the second period of Game 1 where the Penguins can hang their hatRead More »

What We Learned: Situational Awareness sinks Pens in Game 1; Reigning-in Letang a must moving forward

 

Game 1: Penguins – Islanders What We Learned Penguins – Islanders felt like at least a six game series coming in and Game 1 did nothing to dispute that notion. Some of the expected played out: The Islanders forecheck and speed/energy game caused the Penguins fits in stretches. Pittsburgh was not ready to play at the drop of the puck and were very fortunate come out of the Islanders 3-4 minute opening period surge not to be down 2-0. If that type of start happens again for the Penguins in Game 2, shame on them. There will be no excuse Friday night for the Penguins to come out and play the way they did in the first couple minutes of Game 1. As the game progressed Pittsburgh adapted, but the amount of momentum swinging shifts from a speed/physical standpoint was clearly in the Islanders favor in Game 1 and that’sRead More »

Penguins – Islanders Game 1 Buzz: Deja Vu for Johnson, Series Prediction & More

 

Penguins – Islanders Game 1 Buzz Deja vu for Jack Johnson The politics of having management influence lineup decisions like what played out to an extent this season for the Penguins is over as it’s now the postseason. Game 1 of Penguins – Islanders will give a look of how Mike Sullivan and Co actually view their best group of six defensemen. And Jack Johnson isn’t one of them, just as he wasn’t last spring in Columbus when the 2018 postseason got underway. How did the Penguins get to this decision? Sullivan has leaned heavily on top assistant Jacques Martin on which direction to go and as mentioned here yesterday, Martin has strongly pushed in meetings to keep the third pairing of Marcus Pettersson – Erik Gudbranson together, leaving Jack Johnson as the odd-man out. A big point of emphasis among the staff in determining which d-man would sit wasRead More »

Round 1: Neutral Zone Play will be a telling point on how Pens – Isles goes early on

 

Round 1 Set Between Penguins – Islanders The Penguins performance in Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers was a fitting end to the regular season for Pittsburgh in how they just find ways to make things more difficult than they should be. A third period collapse versus the lowly Rangers had Pittsburgh minutes away from a Round 1 meeting with the Washington Capitals until Jake Guentzel saved the day with 2:36 remaining in regulation to tie the game at 3-3. Guentzel tying the game late is how it should have been with Guentzel scoring his 40th goal of the season and Sidney Crosby picking up his 100th point of the season with the assist. Thanks to Guentzel’s late heroics, Pittsburgh accomplished their goal of getting a Round 1 matchup with the New York Islanders. What will be fascinating with this series is whether the Penguins up andRead More »

Eyeing Round 1 matchup with Islanders, Penguins all-in with lineup for Game #82

 

Latest Pens Buzz The Pittsburgh Penguins enter Game #82 and the final day of the regular season in a situation where they can still finish 2nd/3rd or the top wildcard spot. The Islanders go into the night controlling their destiny where they need to earn just one point to clinch home-ice in Round 1. SCENARIOS 1. New York Islanders clinch 2nd place in Metro If they earn at least one point or Pittsburgh loses 2. Pittsburgh Penguins will clinch 2nd place in Metro if they win and Islanders lose in regulation Worst Case Scenario for the Penguins tonight: The Penguins would finish in the top wild card spot and be awarded with a round 1 matchup vs the Capitals if the Carolina Hurricanes defeat the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh loses in regulation. Penguins in position for a favorable Round 1 matchup Far from a shock, Penguins head coach Mike SullivanRead More »

Sidney Crosby/Matt Murray, Building of a 3rd line & Adapting without Kris Letang has margin of error bigger than 2018

 

Pittsburgh’s 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators Friday night was a game that saw the tables turned where Pekka Rinne was tremendous in goal with a 42 save performance at the PPG Paints Arena. It was a game where the Penguins should still feel good about themselves in how they’re building towards playing with a playoff mindset. They just didn’t get the result they wanted. The significance of the loss, though, is it makes the division an extreme longshot. Pittsburgh was in a position where they had to come out of these two games vs Nashville and Carolina by taking at least 3 of 4. Getting the 2-3 seed where the Penguins have fallen the last three postseasons won’t be the worst thing after all as a Pittsburgh – New York Round 1 matchup is matchups galore for Pittsburgh even if Pittsburgh has to start on the road. Sunday’s gameRead More »

Penguins – Capitals What We Learned

 

Penguins – Capitals What We Learned PIT 5 – WSH 3 (F) Goaltending: Matt Murray (38 SV, .927 SV%) | Braden Holtby (25 SV, .862 SV%) PIT Goal Scorers: S Crosby 2 (33), J Guentzel (35), P Kessel (23), J McCann (17) WSH Goal Scorers: J Carlson (11), J Vrana 2 (21) The Washington Capitals through the first 30 minutes of the game, were putting on a methodical performance and as each minute kept passing by, looked to be putting the Penguins to a slow death. Pittsburgh just never seemed to have the puck, couldn’t establish much of any zone time below the dots and Washington looked well on their way to going eight points up on the Penguins in the standings. Until Jared McCann happened in creating an Evgeni Kutznetsov turnover just inside the Capitals blueline, blowing by Brooks Orpik who looked like was walking into a nursing homeRead More »