Pens – Islanders Fallout
The New York Islanders played spoilers Tuesday night, giving the New York Rangers some much needed breathing room in the race for the top spot.
The Islanders 5-3 win over the Penguins helped the Rangers increase their division and conference lead over Penguins to three points, after the Rangers edged out the Minnesota Wild, 3-2 tonight.
With six games remaining, tonight’s loss to the Islanders could end up being a costly one for the Penguins who following Thursday’s game against the Islanders, have a tough five game stretch to finish the season facing all likely playoff teams in Buffalo, Boston, New York Rangers and Philadelphia twice. The Sabres surpassed the Washington Capitals for the No. 8 seed, getting a huge 5-1 win over the Caps tonight.
ISLANDERS EXPLOIT PENS IN TRANSITION GAME
The Penguins are usually the dominant team in the transition game but that wasn’t the case Tuesday night in the Penguins 5-3 loss to the Islanders.
The Islanders surprisingly were the team to push the play offensively and quickly turn defense into offense. Pittsburgh got caught too many times turning the puck over in the neutral zone or right at the Islanders blueline as the offensively opportunistic Penguins also got caught not respecting the Islanders ability to push the play the other way.
TEAM THINKING OFFENSE ALL THE TIME
Frustrations could be seen from head coach Dan Bylsma during his media session regarding the Penguins mindset of thinking offense, offense, offense…..
Bylsma expressed frustration with the Penguins lack of focus with the puck as the team seems to always be thinking offense.
“I definitely agree with the scoring chances against, ” Bylsma said when asked about the teams lack of defensive focus. “Don’t know if it’s a lacks defensively but as much as is a lacks with the puck. Thinking we can turn almost every play into an offensive chance and not taking care of puck in how we manage it, which has turned into a lot of odd-man situations back against us and we saw that again tonight, ” Bylsma said.
There’s some thought around the team that the presence of Sidney Crosby has played a part in the team thinking offense all the time. Not sure I’m buying it, but it’s out there.
“I think we’re worrying too much about offense, ” 4th liner Arron Asham said.
” We have to be better, ” Sidney Crosby said. “You know, this was something leading up to this game, giving up too many scoring chances, and we did get a lot of shots tonight but didn’t deserve to win this hockey game, ” Crosby said. “We got what we deserved tonight.”
Defenseman Brooks Orpik stressed that the Penguins are trying to outscore teams rather than trying to defend, which according to Orpik has been going on for a handful of games.
“Not just tonight, last five or six games, we’re giving up a lot of good, good chances and put too much pressure on the goalies, ” Orpik said. “Maybe just our approach is a little off. We’re trying to outscore teams rather than trying to out-defend. Some nights you get away with it, some nights you don’t. Definitely going into the playoffs, you won’t get away with it.”
DESPRES SHOWS GREAT POISE
Top prospect Simon Despres had 13:40 of ice time in a No. 3 pairing role and where he stood out tonight was his involvement in the offense. He had a couple prime scoring chances jumping into the play in the high left slot on one occasion for an attempted shot but it was the poise he had bringing up the puck in the third period when the Penguins were trailing that caught my eye tonight. He showed a lot of confidence and continues to evolve in that area.