Game 2 Fallout
Penguins – Capitals is all evened up at 1-1 after a Washington 4-1 win in Game 2.
For the Penguins heading into the series, to split in Washington without Evgeni Malkin was something the Penguins would surely take coming in.
Yet, the Penguins game 2 loss has a lot to dissect and certainly had its share of controversies:
What Went Wrong Early Again?
The Penguins fell into the trap again of chasing the game and it was deja vu with the same issues.
Poor reads in being too aggressive with the D-men pinching haunted the Penguins (with no forwards covering) in Washington getting out in transition.Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
The Capitals exploiting the Penguins over-aggressiveness in pinching was something that stood out late in the regular season as a problematic area that could backfire for the Penguins against the right team.
It wasn’t much of an issue in round 1 but has been in Round 2 and will surely be an issue if the Penguins advance to face Boston or Tampa Bay, two clubs that can get out in transition even more effectively than Washington.
Pittsburgh’s system is predicated on their d-men being aggressive in the pinching department but the team starting with their no. 1 pair has to be much smarter when they start games and being conservative early into periods and late isn’t the worst thing.
The Capitals blew the Penguins out of the building in period one jumping out to a 2-0 lead and then a Brett Connolly goal 2:08 into the second period off another d-zone breakdown put the Capitals ahead 3-0.
— This series again has had a similar feel to how each team will dominate play for stretches.
The Capitals out-attempted the Penguins 36-17 in the first period, Pittsburgh came back in period two with a 33-17 edge and 58-33 advantage over the final two periods.
It was same theme for the Penguins as Game 1 — a poor start and a much better second, third period in dictating the pace. —
Mike Sullivan said in his post-game media session that the Penguins have to find a way to score more goals.
Pittsburgh has scored four goals this series, all four goals have been situations with Sidney Crosby/Jake Guentzel on the ice.
And the top line drove possession again. Guentzel, Crosby on the ice for 28 shot attempts in 5-on-5 play.
Pittsburgh produced just 9 shot attempts when Riley Sheahan/Phil Kessel were on the ice together for over 10 minutes at even strength.
The Derick Brassard/Phil Kessel combo has not caught fire yet this season and the Penguins spacing out their group without Malkin is understandable but the coaches have not given the line of Rust – Brassard – Kessel enough of a look since Brassard was acquired.
The line was great in a short audition together during the regular season and if Malkin is held out one more game, that should be an option explored in Game 3.
On the Forward Situation
— Game 2 was another example of where the Penguins could have used Chris Kunitz and highlighted the Penguins blown free agency of making no attempt to retain Kunitz.
As this series moves forwards and the Penguins have some waste out there at the forward position it brings the decision not to embrace Daniel Sprong as an option further to the table.
The coaching staff does not trust Sprong but it was an interesting wrinkle that Sprong took part in warmups in Game 2.
Sprong’s ability to only need one shot to put a puck into the net has to start being a discussion with some of the deadweight on the wing right now.
Brian Dumoulin Injury, Controversial Hit, Goals/Disallowed Goals
1. Tom Wilson was doing Tom Wilson things with a headshot to Brian Dumoulin that knocked Dumoulin out of the game and of course no penalty was called.Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
Losing Dumoulin for a game or multiple games this series is a significant loss for the Penguins.
One thing I continue to hear from scouts, coaches who watch this team closely is that Pittsburgh’s best defenseman right now is Dumoulin not Kris Letang.
For Game 3 the Penguins could be in a situation with playing two No. 7/No. 8 caliber defensemen in Chad Ruhwedel and Matt Hunwick.
An injury to one of the Penguins top-3 defensemen (Dumoulin, Letang, Schultz) further highlights the bad summer the Penguins had with the Hunwick signing (3 year, $2.25 AAV), instead of re-upping Hainsey at (2 years, $3 Million AAV) or Trevor Daley. It just becomes more and more of a head scratches when guys who you won Stanley Cups with were signed elsewhere right in the same neighborhood of what the Penguins committed to a then 32 year old Hunwick.
2. The NHL embarrassed itself with the no call on the Patric Hornqvist goal that would have made it a 3-2 game with 10 minutes remaining and who knows how that game would have ended.Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
3. The refs have set an interesting precedent in the series that a goalies pads can be slashed seconds before a shot.
“I was pretty disappointed,” Murray said of the Vrana goal being allowed. “As a goalie, just want to be able to do your job. When something like that happens and you can’t do it, you just want to see the rule be upheld. So I was disappointed.”
In slow motion it looks like Murray has plenty of time to reach but live is the true barometer and that’s interference by the rule book. Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"