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Insider Only Morning Pens Buzz: Concerns emerging for Penguins but Islanders don’t have the goaltending to take 3 of next 4 games


The Pittsburgh Penguins have been outplayed in two of three games, yet they are up 2-1 in the series, pretty much because of their star power.
Having a star like Sidney Crosby can make up for issues elsewhere and that’s one clear advantage the Penguins have in their series against New York and will likely propel them into the second round. With the way the Islanders badly outplayed the Penguins at 5-on-5 Sunday afternoon, that was a game the Islanders absolutely had to take.
Despite all of the problems the Islanders are causing the Penguins, they really needed to win Game 3 to have much of a shot in winning this series. The Islanders just don’t have the goaltending in my opinion to win three of the next four games.
A Stanley Cup type team puts an inferior team away in the situation the Penguins will be in tonight in Game 4, an opportunity to go up 3-1.
That said, some serious concerns have re-emerged about the Penguins play resembling the type of mistake prone hockey we saw last post-season.
Among Them in Game 3:
MENTAL MISTAKES: 1. Leading 4-2, the Penguins go to the power play, 3:50 into the third with the opportunity to put the game away. While your looking to the put the Islanders away here, it’s hockey 101, that the most important thing on this man-advantage is to not give up any shorthanded scoring chances.
Mark Eaton was on the ice for the sole reason of having a defensive presence and with 25 seconds left on the power play he pinches a bit which leads to a Kyle Okposo breakaway goal. Moments later Chris Kunitz makes a huge blunder not getting the puck deep, leading to a John Tavares game tying goal, “It was my fault on the fourth goal,” Kunitz said after Sunday’s game. “I didn’t put it deep; I put it wide. They moved up quick. Tavares had a great one-on-one, good shot. “It’s something that you regret, not putting the puck deep. I was fortunate to get one back in overtime to make up for it.”
These were the type of mental mistakes we haven’t seen for a while from this group, but are suddenly popping up again for the Penguins, raising those same concerns for when teams start to dictate the play offensively against the Penguins, the Penguins feel the need to start playing pond hockey.
STRUGGLES TO GET PUCKS DEEP: The biggest head scratcher over the Penguins play last two games has been their inability to get pucks deep or a better way to put up, their reluctance to get the puck deep and go grind. A reason the Penguins dominated Game 1 was how they imposed their will in the offensive zone by chipping pucks deep and just wearing down the Islanders group of smallish defensemen with speed and physicality.
The Penguins have talked all series and prior to the series of how the Islanders “thrive” off turnovers, yet the Penguins have played into the Islanders hands of being sloppy with the puck in the neutral zone and not getting pucks deep. If the Penguins don’t try to adopt that game plan tonight, then maybe this team just doesn’t get it.

The Penguins have been giving up the neutral zone defensively all series and it’s something the coaching staff has yet to figure out on how to slow down the Islanders in transition. The Penguins have made a tactical change in having their defensemen sit back a bit more, something players said {adjustment} was made in-game during Game 2. It hasn’t been successful. Establishing a puck possession game in the offensive zone we haven’t seen since Game 1, will be one key to slowing down the Islanders in transition.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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