The Pittsburgh Penguins have suddenly been among the most effective teams 5 vs 5 offensively over the last 4-6 weeks and in some metrics even dating back to the start of the New Year, and that’s even been with an unplayable bottom-6 for large stretches. You combine that with special teams getting hot at the right time for a first-round series and there’s at least some hope they could be a tough out against a team like Carolina for example.

Except for This…………..

Why the roller coaster season continues with two steps forward and then one step back as it did with Tuesday’s embarrassing 6-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on home-ice is goaltending and systematic defensive play.

Tristan Jarry on Tuesday night was pulled for the third time in nine games after allowing four goals on seven shots and he was unplayable. Just atrocious goaltending in not being to provide a save after Pittsburgh jumped out to a 2-0 lead four minutes into the game against a bad opponent that played the night before. And Pittsburgh’s aggressive defensive system in demanding the d-men to provide immediate pressure below the dots continues to be among the most maddening things with this hockey club where the strong side ‘D’ and weak side ‘D’ are over pursuing, and the forward line of defense is often in no-man’s land. The system puts such reliance on Pittsburgh’s centers to read and react defensively and aside from Sidney Crosby, they don’t have any centers capable of playing this way defensively, yet, it remains the structure in place.

What’s the future hold for Tristan Jarry?: The goaltending picture is becoming a potential disaster situation for the Penguins in the short-term and long-term. You can’t rely on Casey DeSmith for so long. He’s had some great moments of late but past performances show if you put too much on DeSmith’s plate, he eventually falters like most backup goaltenders do. Ron Hextall’s best move of the year might have been pulling back on contract negotiations with Jarry’s representation at Newport Sports in late To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!