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Insider Only Pens on the Brink: Dead-Weight, coaching debacle highlight an embarrassing Game 3 loss

Penguins on the Brink

Meltdown, implosion, embarrassing……….

It’s fair to go in any of those directions when describing the Penguins Game 3 loss.

Surrendering a 3-1 second period lead against that team was bad enough, but the way the Penguins got owned in the final 30 minutes of play was just something else.

It was so reminiscent to what played out in the four game trouncing the New York Islanders gave the Penguins last spring. If Pittsburgh has a quick exit here in the bubble, an even more thorough evaluation from management will come this off-season than last spring where seismic changes were seriously mulled.

Last night there was no fight in the Penguins. Listless, soft, however you want to put it. The Canadiens who punted on regular season prior to the NHL shutting down, punched back in Game 3, while the Penguins took the stance in Game 3 they might be more interested in punting on the post-season.

Mike Sullivan coached the latter part of Game 3 like it was Game 3 of the preseason in late September where the Penguins left their stars back home.

Sullivan was rolling out Justin Schultz and Jack Johnson with under six minutes to play like the Penguins were up five goals. Those two should have been left in the locker room after period two. Johnson and Schultz getting regular shifts would be the equivalent of the Penguins down one goal in a playoff game and the coaches double shifting Craig Adams and Sergei Plotnikov in the final five minutes to try to force overtime.

Even the dreadful third line was stepping onto the ice with the Penguins trailing after the mid-way point of the third period. The most stunning part of the Game 3 loss was coaching in how the bench never got shortened. Pittsburgh played with no urgency and coached with no urgency.


— Are the Penguins as a core group/coaching staff just a sinking ship together and it is what it is? Maybe, Maybe not. Management went back and forth on this last summer for several weeks after the Islanders series.

When the NHL resumption became reality and training camps opened, many seemed to act like Pittsburgh’s poor level of play in the final 4-6 weeks before the shutdown never happened, and was something that shouldn’t carry a lot of weight because they were seeded by facing such a weak opponent in the Montreal Canadiens.

It’s not shocking we’re seeing the same concerning signs that started to appear from late January on.


— Deadweight on the roster has been glaring through three games:

All of the fuss about Jack Johnson as a player and the detriment he is on the ice, but Justin Schultz no longer being a capable NHL-level defenseman is a much bigger problem for the Penguins this post-season whether they get past the Canadiens or not. Schultz is atrocious defensively and the offensive ability is gone. There’s been no signs for two seasons now that it’s coming back….

Then there’s the fact Pittsburgh can only roll out three capable lines, which is a problem in this series, just think how big of a problem it would be in the next round if the Penguins come back and beat the Canadiens.

Montreal’s blueline has outplayed Pittsburgh’s by a significant margin. Jeff Petry and Shea Weber have been among the best players on the ice in the series. Pittsburgh’s group on the blueline has been okay to really bad as a whole.


Patrick Marleau, Great-Guy, likely Hall-of-Famer, but what was Jim Rutherford thinking? Marleau just can’t play anymore and for some reason the organization feels benching Marleau is a sensitive issue.

This isn’t a joke. Multiple Sources say Rutherford was drawn to Marleau at the deadline because he felt the forward group was missing a M Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

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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