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Insider Only Latest Pens Buzz: Wake-Up Call, Messaging, Can Penguins alter style of play?

Mike Sullivan has his work cut out for himself

The Pittsburgh Penguins are a fortunate 4-3-1 after eight games. That’s the good through eight games and that’s about it.

The multiple what I’d call fluke come from behind wins have covered up how bad this team has played for a lot of stretches thus far. With a number of injuries on the blueline, Mike Sullivan could have taken the easy way out after the Penguins lackluster 4-1 loss to the Bruins and chalked it up to injuries.

He was right not to.

We’ve got to play the game the right way,” Mike Sullivan said. “That’s what I think. We’ve got to defend when it’s called upon and not just try to outscore teams. You’ve got to be harder to play against if were going to find success consistently. And we weren’t hard against tonight — Penguins coach Mike Sullivan on the Penguins 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.

And I liked the shot Sullivan took at his team.

“Structure and commitment. That’s what good defense is. That’s how you play a stingy game and Boston has it,” said Sullivan.

I said it the other day. For the Penguins to overachieve this season, boring is going to be better. There’s too many deficiencies in the lineup to just go through the motions and try to rely on talent. There is going to have to be a structured game with puck support in all three phases and a focus on turning defense to offense in transition.

It’s going to be their only hope. Has anyone watched the likes of Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang? Those two aren’t transforming back into the players they were 10 years ago.

Speaking of Malkin, he might not be playing the right way but at least he is saying the right things!

“Boston was faster, they are hungry, they win every battle in the corners,” said Malkin. “We need to fight every shift.”

This team isn’t as talented as they were years ago where they could show up for 10 minutes of play and still put up 4 goals on you. Mike Sullivan isn’t dumb. He knows how they need to play, it’s just a question of whether he’s the one to get it out of them.

Pittsburgh managed just 17 shots on goal in the loss and through forty minutes had a whopping 7 even strength shots (5 vs 5). Sullivan cited the need for simplicity on offense.

“We need an element of simplicity in our offensive game,” said Sullivan.

Over-passing off zone entries has been an issue but another issue I keep coming back to is the personnel. Is this a group wired and built to play a simpler, hard-nosed offensive game?

I don’t think so.


— When Evgeni Malkin talks anymore, it’s best to just look the other way. He always talks about the need to play a certain way, but at some point actions mean more than words.

However, I did like some of the words coming out of room from others in trying to step up with some leadership.

One was Teddy Blueger who is someone that actually tries to play a responsible game.

“They work together with five guys on the ice really well, in sync,” said of the Bruins via @Penguins. It felt like they outworked us today. They won most of the puck battles, one-on-one battles, and got the pucks along the wall. That kinda ended up being the difference, I think That’s something we need more of is trying to be harder to play against. We need to be a little more physical and work together instead of trying to play too much individually.”

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About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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