Avalanche 4 – Penguins 2
“We got outplayed in the second period badly. I thought they were hungrier than we were. We took penalties. I think we took three or four penalties in the second period. That doesn’t help. We got outplayed. They were better than us.”– Penguins coach Mike Sullivan.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are a hockey club looking for answers.
A 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Monday night was the Penguins fifth loss in seven games and this club is reeling a bit.
Are most of the Penguins issues right now fixable with this group?
Even Mike Sullivan last night would only admit that some of them are.
The General Manager had a really bad off-season that hasn’t been remotely fixed yet.
But, where this group is proving to their GM that a shakeup is needed is how teams suddenly look faster and much more engaged than the Penguins.
The drive to win when it comes to doing the little things that win hockey games has rarely been there for sixty minutes and that will be the proving point that leads to a shakeup.
“We’d like to see our team play with a lot of conviction and a lot of determination,” Sullivan said. “I think that’s what it takes to win.”
Should anybody be upset that the Penguins take a step back this season and go out in round 1?
Coming off back-to-back Stanley Cups, absolutely not, but it doesn’t mean you just stand pat and punt the season.
Rutherford has the right mindset from that standpoint.
— As a more top-heavy team this season, Pittsburgh is so reliant on their best players having to score at even strength and the power play being efficient to win hockey games.
The power play has now dried up (though the Malkin goal came right at the end of a power play), in the midst of an 0-13 stretch and games Pittsburgh was pulling out early in the season because of their power play, are now games they’re losing when the power play production has been lacking.
Who didn’t see that coming?
Pittsburgh’s best players didn’t come to play vs the Avalanche.
Sidney Crosby vs the Avalanche: 0 Points, Minus-2, 0 Shots, 27 CF% (9/24 @ 5vs5), 33 FO% (6/12).
The Crosby line as a whole struggled mightily with the Nathan MacKinnon matchup, where Crosby was on the ice for 2 shot attempts and 12 against with scoring chances 7-0 Colorado when those two were matched up together.
Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel had bad nights during 5 vs 5 play
Crosby is now at 1.05 points/60 during 5 vs 5 play this season which is an insane stat when we’re talking about Sidney Crosby.
Pittsburgh’s best line vs the Avalanche was the 4th line who were a Ryan Reaves shot hitting the post in the third period from tying the game up.
Josh Archibald provided needed speed as he often does and was really effective in pressuring the puck and possessing the puck along the wall. Reaves turned in his most impactful performance of the season and the line was rewarded with actual third period shifts they deserved.
Still, one good game from the 4th line doesn’t change anything that four to five of the Penguins bottom-tier forwards are dead weight that need replaced.Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"