PENGUINS STARTING TO SHOW TRUE COLORS
The New Jersey Devils might get mocked for playing low event hockey, but at least the Devils have an identity, something the Penguins have been searching for since Dan Bylsma was booted out of town.
Following a 4-0 loss to the Devils Saturday night where the Devils were the superior team in all facets, the Penguins held a close door meeting afterwards and are a team searching for answers.
“Everything is wrong,” Evgeni Malkin told reporters. “We’re not playing right, we’re not working hard,” he said. “I know it’s tough right now. I know we’re mad at each other. We’re not working.” It’s not only (lack of) goals, it’s bad penalties, turnovers, it’s everything,” Malkin said. “Not play right in the system. Yeah, always if you score, it’s a little bit better we can score, but play right. Not (make) bad mistakes. “Now (we’re) a little bit mad at each other, we’re not believe anymore, we’re not happy, but it’s the beginning of the season.”
Evgeni Malkin talks about stop taking bad penalties, yet, he’s the king of offensive zone penalties.
For a team with Crosby and Malkin that are one of the most boring teams in hockey, have been dating back to last year, averaging under 2.2 goals per game in their last 80 hockey games, frustrations are mounting throughout the organization as a mediocre run of games from Marc Andre Fleury during the upcoming four game homestand could sink Mike Johnston. The Penguins are an extremely lucky 10-7 right now because of how well Fleury has played.
What was so alarming with the New Jersey loss is a team with significantly less talent, the Devils were the faster team, the more structured team, the more creative team offensively. You take the last names off the jerseys, you’d think the Devils were the team with Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and Letang on their roster.
That is a team over there. The Penguins are not and it’s a team that manages the puck poorly despite their high end talent that has some major holes as their star players are no longer the type of players they were in their early 20’s to make other personnel issues no big deal.
While lots of focus is on the backend, the top-6 is a mess and bottom-6 needs an infusion of speed and players who are hard to play against. Not only are the stars not producing 5 v 5, the secondary parts are major problems. David Perron has one goal on the season, a deflection, and 4 goals in his last 49 games (including post-season). Pascal Dupuis has looked everything of 36 years old and had a 22 CF% 5 v 5 against the Devils. Crosby and Dupuis are at under 40% together this season.
Beau Bennett was on the ice for 0 shot attempts/12 against at even strength last night. This for a guy playing with Sidney Crosby. We know Chris Kunitz just can’t finish anymore to be a legitimate top-6 option anymore.
The Penguins best defenseman plays with no structure.
Watch Kris Letang on the Mike Cammalleri goal. The Penguins are on the penalty kill and he’s trying to defend the point man after Lovejoy fails to clear the zone. Letang’s eyes are up the ice the entire time. Unbelievable to watch.
Lot of Letang’s issues are mental right now, he doesn’t have the hockey sense that is ever going to make him that dominant No. 1 shutdown defenseman the Penguins need him to be.
At the end of the day, what this group needs is a kick in the butt, someone who isn’t scared to quit catering to the stars and the star players need to start looking in the mirror. It’s nice that Crosby, Malkin are more committed to playing their own end but other stars are producing around the NHL. You can only blame Mike Johnston’s system and the NHL’s product so much.
Tyler Seguin, Patrick Kane each have 26 points. Kane, Jamie Benn have scored 12 goals in under 18 games. Or just start accepting that others have caught up to Crosby and certainly passed Malkin. That’s the reality, management needs to start accepting it when looking big picture, and it’s a big problem for an organization with a depleted system.