GAME 3 WHAT WE LEARNED
Do the Penguins have any interest in even putting up a fight Tuesday night to send the series back to Long Island or have they mentally checked out?
It’s a valid question after the Penguins 4-1 loss in Game 3.
The Islanders have not only out-classed the Penguins in nearly every area through three games, today’s loss was so crushing in how there was just no fight, no pushback from the Penguins.
Some of the signs were there in Game 2 and that continued in Game 3.
This team is stale and mis-managed but when the going got tough today, the Penguins just called it a day.
Pittsburgh managed just three shots in the final 10 minutes of the third third period, coincidingly the Islanders took a 3-1 lead at 10:27 of the third period and put an exclamation point on Game 3.
Mike Sullivan, Sidney Crosby and others talked afterwards that despite the Penguins low shot volume today, (NYI 36 – 26 edge in shots) there were opportunities like rebounds the Penguins just couldn’t get too.
“It’s a tight game, game of execution and we haven’t done as good of a job as they have,” Sidney Crosby said.
The difference between Pittsburgh and New York is the Penguins scoring opportunities have been on the lower percentage side, having to rely on converting rebounds and tip-in’s than creating off the rush or capitalizing on d-zone breakdowns where the Islanders have excelled at.
“They’ve got some opportunistic goals, seems like in each [game] that’s occurred,” Mike Sullivan said.
Sullivan should be the last person to be stunned by this.
The tape will be brutal again for the coaching staff to go over with the Penguins d-zone play and none more so than the immediate seconds after taking a 1-0 lead on a Garrett Wilson tip-in goal.
Following the center ice faceoff after the Wilson goal, the Islanders get the puck deep and there’s a complete breakdown from the Penguins defensively with their No. 1 pairing on the ice. Look at the chance Jordan Eberle gets. There’s confusion on who should go where (like all series) and Letang in no-mans land (like all series) in not protecting the right post.
These constant breakdowns and Letang’s been one of the biggest culprits, which is a major problem when he plays the minutes he does, has just reached the unbelievable stages.
This breakdown immediately ensuing the Wilson goal had a major trickle down effect as it led to a defensive zone faceoff that Sidney Crosby lost where Pittsburgh couldn’t get the puck out and Jordan Eberle scores (17 seconds after the lost draw) to tie the game at 1-1.
The icing on the cake was just over a minute later where Justin Schultz makes a terrible pinch that leads to a Brock Nelson 2-on-1 goal.
The Penguins deserve their fate right now of being down 3-0.
This is just a terrible combination for the present and future on the backend of slower d-men in a league that’s getting faster and the ones who can skate having below average situational awareness in high pressure situations that might be easy to overlook in the regular season but becomes magnified in the postseason as they are now.