Penguins – Rangers What We Learned

Winning Games you shouldn’t will get you to the playoffs, especially in a shortened season. And here are the Penguins sitting at a very fortunate 3-2-0, 6 pts, after five games, earning six out of a 10 possible points thus far.

Like the Washington game on Tuesday night, the Penguins played a more structured game in the third period against the Rangers, but the Penguins have to be careful not to let these rallies overlook the atrocious defensive lapses they continue to have that are eventually going to sink them.

Showing resolve, resiliency is great as they’ve shown, but these comebacks continue to be driven by fluke goals. Jared McCann’s power play goal to cut the Rangers lead to 3-2 in the second period saw McCann record his first goal since January 14, 2020, and officially not be awarded a shot on goal as Ryan Lindgren put the puck in his own net as he tried to push the puck back to Shesterkin to cover up. The Teddy Blueger game tying goal came off a missed shot that bounced off the boards behind the net and right on Blueger’s stick for the goal.

It’s good to be lucky sometimes.

Still, there’s just no sense the team see’s the constant breakdowns defensively as being as big as an issue as it really is and it’s going to be their eventual downfall. There’s personnel issues that likely can’t be fixed this season but the massive defensive breakdowns are not talent issues. This is a below average team away from the puck and we’ve seen the same story for a while now. This team isn’t talented or good enough to get away from not being a structured disciplined team. At the end of the day, the story of whether the Penguins evolve into anything more than a one round capable team this season is going to be whether a disciplined structure emerges. They have to find an identity of turning defense into offense.

More boring is going to be better and it’s going to be the only way the team overachieves. Evgeni Malkin isn’t getting any younger and Phil Kessel isn’t come back through that door. The days of being some great dynamic offensive team that’s going to be able to get away with trading chances every night and can bury you with any slip up defensively isn’t going to be this group.

It’s too much of a perimeter team with a lack of true finishers.


— Monster game from Bryan Rust. Scored the opening goal and had 11 SHOTS ON GOAL, all at even strength. The Penguins had 22 shots in the game 5 vs 5 with Rust counting for 45%. Only six Penguin forwards recorded a shot on goal (5 vs 5). Rust was the only forward with more than one shot on goal 5 vs 5.

Bryan Rust – 10 SOG, Goal
Evan Rodrigues – 1 SOG
Mark Jankowski – 1 SOG
Teddy Blueger – 1 SOG, Goal
Jake Guentzel – 1 SOG
Sidney Crosby – 1 SOG

— Encouraging start for Tristan Jarry. Much more composed and the athleticism shined in the win. Jarry was forced to make a number of side-to-side saves due to the Penguins gap control woes among the d-men and forward group. The scoreboard could have easily said 6-3 Rangers instead of 4-3 Penguins.

— Penguins goaltenders are now 7 of 8 on shootout attempts for the season. Tristan Jarry censored Tony DeAngelo to seal the win.

— Head coach Mike Sullivan called it a terrific debut for Pierre Olivier-Joseph.

I thought he had a terrific first game in the NHL, said Sullivan. He was skating, made some nice subtle plays to help us get out of our end. He played within himself.

Moving forward Olivier-Joseph is going to have some rough nights as all young defensemen do, but when Juuso Riikola is back, there’s is no reason not to keep plugging Joseph in the lineup.

And here’s an observation I feel comfortable already making.

The decision to take on Mike Matheson is going to look even worse when you could have just been putting Joseph out there on a rookie contract instead and who will be cheap for the next couple seasons.

— Really rough start to the season for Jason Zucker. He is fighting the puck and the confidence looks shot. Rushing things and just doesn’t look comfortable with the puck when defenders are pressuring him. Zucker had no shots on goal for the second consecutive game. Jim Rutherford has a tendency to sour on players he acquires quickly and the GM To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!……….

— The Penguins through two games have used Kasperi Kapanen mostly in a bottom-6 role and it’s paid dividends as he’s made the 4th line much more playable. Kapanen on the Blueger goal drove defenders back with his speed to open a shooting lane for Olivier-Joseph.

To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!