PENGUINS AND THE BIG PICTURE
The Pittsburgh Penguins are a fortunate team to be 6-4 at the 10 game mark and the best way to describe the first 10 game stretch of the season is ‘survival mode’.
The data, the eye-test, little adds up for them being 6-4 right now but to their credit they’ve found ways to win.
The Penguins had some positives vs the lowly Sabres and backup goaltender Chris Johnston Thursday night.
They scored some playoff style goals in around the net.
Pascal Dupuis 56 seconds in scores in around the net (10ft) and all of the Penguins goals came from prime scoring areas.
Patric Hornqvist (26 ft), Ben Lovejoy (10 ft) and a power play goal from Evgeni Malkin (10 ft).
The negative on the night, the Penguins needed a 50 save performance from Jeff Zatkoff to survive an onslaught from the Sabres, a team that will be in the running once again for the top overall pick and was missing the likes of Evander Kane.
Buffalo out-shot Pittsburgh 53-29, out-attempted the Penguins 83-44 and at even strength held a 72-40 advantage in shot attempts. This coming from a Sabres team whose system under Dan Bylsma is not tailored towards being a strong possession team and neither is the talent right now.
Over the final 25:03 of the game, the Penguins were out-shot 29-4.
The last time the Penguins gave up 53 or more shots in a game was Game 5 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Final. That game went into three overtimes.
Was last night just a sequence of the Penguins playing on back-to-back nights and the coaches opting to make no lineup changes?
It would be easy to buy that if the Penguins weren’t already bottom-5 in Shot Attempts Against/60 and that was prior to the Sabres peppering them with 80+ attempts. The Penguins being in the bottom-5 is not a fluke and it’s unlikely we see them get out of the bottom-10 this season.
The Penguins are not playing great lock down defense, that’s one myth going around right now.
They’re getting spectacular goaltending to keep the goals against numbers at an elite level and the great goaltending has kept them from having a Columbus Blue Jackets type start.
The goaltending is going to take a step back at some point, that’s the reality of the situation.
What is going to have to be answered as the season progresses is how the Penguins off-set the high Shot Attempts/Against when the luck goes away and the goals against start to go up which is bound to happen.
A trend through 10 games has been the opposition going through six to eight minute stretches where they control the play and hem the Penguins in their own end for multiple shifts.
The Penguins ability to survive those stretches has been the story of the season so far and why they’re 6-4, instead of 3-7, and having a press conference today to name a new coach.
These type of stretches happen at least twice a game, sometimes three or four times.
Last night late in the first period Buffalo was on the winning side of one of those stretches with two goals in a 2:25 span where the Penguins struggles to possess the puck for the last six-seven minutes of the period got Buffalo back in the game.
In the third period the Penguins survived just barely when the ice was tilted in Buffalo’s favor for the entire period.
The Penguins are 27th in the NHL with a 46.7 CF% at even strength. No team has made the Stanley Cup with an even strength CF% under 50% since the 2008-2009 Penguins.
The Penguins are not just suddenly going to flip a switch and start clicking at 52-53% with this backend.
Pittsburgh’s ability to get back into the fray this season as a Stanley Cup Contender is still going to come back to the offense in being able to show a quick strike ability to get timely goals and the power play becoming a consistent factor.
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Where are all the power play afficiandos (Jaydogg) that believe you have to load up the PP with your most talented players? If there was ever a sport where raw talent meant less to a team’s success it’s hockey. It’s about chemistry and players serving their roles.
As a start, get Letang off the PP and replace him with Maatta.
So in previous years wins from October – April meant nothing, but this year they’re important right?
Nope, they are meaningless.
Think the pace on the third for Kunitz is perfect.
This is the leafs before we go planning the parade. Want to see how this continues this week.
Can fault Crosby and other forwards but it’s tough to score when you’re chasing the puck all night. Zero transition game. No defenseman that can take a hit in the zone necessary to set up the breakout
2nd unit gets the PP goal.
Any update about fehr
Now we know why they didn’t resign Ehrhoff, out with an upper body injury ie most likely a concussion with his history.
I heard npl will be wearing a giant hot dog what a coincidence happens to be kessel playing in Toronto tonight.
Just watched Nhl ‘s best. Top 50 plays of the season so far. Not one pens were in the highlights
I’m sure leafs fans will throw a hot dog to kessel as a thank you. I bet npl will be watching his first pens game of the season tonight
Farham 1g1A today so far
Of course we wouldn’t like energy like that in the lineup
LOL someone took the time to minus this.
So D has time to tweet back and forth with RW about how Toronto is insulting Kessel for not doing a video tribute of him but doesn’t have time to cut and paste some pregame notes? If the stupidity of posters like Sam and Yoda wasn’t so entertaining there really would be no reason to ever log onto this site.
win or lose tonight, CF% <45 I would fire johnston
Ugh, the last thing I want to see is an ugly win against toronto tonight. I might puke if I see Crosby/Malkin playing 200 ft hockey. I’d rather them lose then win an ugly game.
You would honestly rather see them lose but be entertaining than to see them win trying to play sound hockey? Mario really should have moved the team when he had a chance.
by the way, i didn’t resubscribe to DK when the free ap expired. it’s obvious he is on the penguins propaganda payroll.
D is fortunate that we come to his website and read his stupidity he spews out.
at least D will say players like st.blurry suck when he sucks. over at DK he is in love with the goaltender even if his % is .722.
How are they “fortunate” to be 6-4. They won games.
Hotdog sales must be booming!
New coach hired yet?
I stopped reading this article when he couldn’t even realize that it was Chad Johnson in goal. You have no credibility Depaoli. Put the computer down and stop typing!
Here’s a few suggestions to solving the issue of wearing Sid and Geno down while still structuring them to play the 200′ game they have played through the 1st 10 games and they don’t involve changes to the system. First and foremost, neither takes another shift on the pk. Penalty killing can be hard an exhausting work and the tangible difference between Sid/Geno and the other capable killers is almost non existent. Save their energy for when their skills and be the most useful (5on5 and 5on4). Every second they spend on the pk is a second wasted. Second, use… Read more »
gretzky, lemieux, messier, and yzerman all killed penalties and they didn’t seem to waste energy
You inability to understand that it isn’t 1989 anymore makes you look even dumber than your overall knowledge of the game does.
Okay then, hossa Kane and toews all kill penalties and they have more cups than the pens. They look less tired than geno and sid.
Your cluelessness has no bounds, Kane rarely ever kills penalties(’12-’13 24 seconds for the whole season. ’13-’14 58 seconds for the whole season and last year he had a whopping 2:27 in 61 games) and with that now corrected how does that have any bearing on the fact that Sid and Geno are being worn down and need to have their minutes cut down or that the Pens pk is no better with them killing penalties than it was when they didn’t kill penalties? I didn’t honestly think it was possible but I’m now convinced you’re dumber than Sam.
Not only that even if toews Kane an Hossa kills penalty. They have other line mates contribute. While pens everything starts from sid and geno. I they ar tired the line doesn’t produce and line 3 and 4 don’t expect them contribute
I agree with this. With the team getting healthy there’s no reason to have those two killing penalties. Sid and Geno never looked “invested” in it anyway. Although Geno has looked decent the last couple of games.
Lovejoy scores goal because Geno on PK.
I didn’t say Geno was playing bad on the pk, he’s been very good but 1 tangible result every 10 games is no more than they would produce without him on the pk.
Take Sid off the PP. keep him fresh.
I wouldn’t agree that but not because it keeps him fresher.
They are only keeping Sprong up for PR purposes.
I think the more shots he sees the better he plays. We can’t do that every night, but he was definitely our best player tonight and kept us in it.
— Penguins forward Beau Bennett on teammate Marc-Andre Fleury, after the caps game
Yes, Beau Bennett is a goaltender official.
He most certainly isnt and of course there is little chance a guy on the ice with him would have any insight we cannot provide
Totally agree. We know more about goaltending than BB
it’s amazing how st.blurry puts up 2 playoffs in a row with a sub .850% and the following year has the sports worlds greatest meltdown of all time to be saved by vokoun and the people still adore him. he cost the pens 2 cups.
I enjoyed this column. This is a team which has yet to define itself. The goalie was the savior (in terms of win loss, and the coach) through the first ten. Johnston needs to find a way to get his forwards more engaged in the offensive zone. Too many times we settle for poor scoring chances (not going to the net, passing up shots, passing across the zone, etc). Its difficult to determine whether it is Johnston’s system or the forwards style (probably some of both). Whatever the case, it needs to be fixed because MAF will not be able… Read more »
agreed Jgregg23 you pretty much polished what i said before
Fleury is the only consistent player for this team so far .just like last year
Fleury consistent? You’re an idiot. Midget has been lights out for the first 9 games he’s played (with just a few Midget-esq gaffs), maybe the most consistent stretch he has ever played in his career. But calling this guy consistent beyond the last 9 games is stupid.
i dont know what type of hockey you watch. fleury has been good since the MT days he was horrible under DB that i admit but you cant see the diffrence in his game last 2 years vs the time DB was around if not then you are blind . have a feeling yoda is paying you to be here
Two retards arguing. This is so good.
who can pens replace fleury with tell me you clown find me an avalable goalie that can play 65+ games with shit backup goalies the year fleury tanked vs flyers its because the backup sucked every time BJ was in he was getting pulled and fleury was coming in to finish the guy never had a night off anyways find me a goalie you want fleury to be replaced with and then will talk
st.blurry has gone through good stretches and he is responsible for the pens having an over .500 record right now. however, when it really counts, since after the cup he has melted like the rest of the team. it’s nice he’s playing well now, but it is unrealistic to assume he won’t melt down sooner or later.
Chad Johnson. Good to see you watched the game
as i said yesterday goalies have been amazing offense been medicore and defense been brutal.once the goalies start playing normal this team is doomed .yes this team has 6 wins that makes gaydogg happy but. none of the wins are convincing up to now .
To quote the great Domenica Toretto, “it doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or by a mile, winning is winning!”. I’ll take 16 not very convincing playoff wins and proudly celebrate winning the Cup all day long. Maybe if Canadian teams spent more time worrying about winning and not how convincing they are when they win it wouldn’t have been more than 20 years since they’ve celebrated a Cup win.
Canadians try to make it worth and not be a fraud