Sullivan Strongly Defends Dumoulin and Carter, ‘Easy Guys to Pick On’
NEW YORK — Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan didn’t rush to defend his beleaguered veterans, Jeff Carter and Brian Dumoulin, but when called to account for their performances, Sullivan drew a hard line and pushed back on media criticism of the players and his handling of them.
The Penguins were thrashed by the New York Rangers, 6-0, Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Sullivan didn’t wiggle out of the question as he did when asked about his concern for the team’s “lack of urgency” on Thursday.
He didn’t dodge the questions many fans and media, including Pittsburgh Hockey Now, are asking, as we did Saturday morning by advocating for scratching Jeff Carter.
Sullivan both forehanded the question back to us and made clear the difficult circumstances in which the pair are often engulfed.
“You guys like to pick on certain guys. You go to them all the time,” Sullivan said. “And we respectfully disagree with you in a lot of circumstances. When goals are scored, we look at a lot of the details on the hows and the whys. And the reality is it’s more than one person when goals are in the back of your net. Those guys are easy guys to pick on, but I will tell you, all year long, we’ve put them in difficult circumstances that are involved. It’s not just any one guy.”
In fairness, it was Carter who created the game’s first scoring chance Saturday, when he set up Josh Archibald in the slot. However, it also was Carter who spun away from Mike Zibanejad when he scored the first Rangers goal.
Dumoulin’s exasperating gaffe at the end of the first period allowed another wide-open chance and resulted in a Rangers’ power-play goal with just 11 seconds remaining.
A great period for the Penguins, in which they out-chanced the Rangers, 15-5, according to NaturalStatTrick.com, produced a 2-0 deficit. And it went south from there.
“They got a late one in the first — (It) gets momentum and we still had lots of time,” Sidney Crosby said. “Then they got the third. I’d say at some point in the second period (it got away from us). I don’t know when, but, 6-0 is a pretty hard deficit to come back from.”
Just one big mistake and the game would have been salvageable, but two in the back of the net after playing so well had an air of finality.
Of course, Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry could have made a save on either shot, too. Both were open looks, but neither was unstoppable.
Jarry has been pulled four times in the past 11 games.
Carter’s first-period minus upped his season total to a team-worst minus-17. For some context, defenseman Kris Letang is behind Carter at minus-13 but plays, on average, 10 minutes more per game.
But Penguins fans continue to ask about Carter and Dumoulin, so Sullivan provided the answer in a lengthy explanation that spanned nearly two minutes.
“Those guys play against top players in defensive situations all the time. ‘Carts’ going into tonight’s game was sixth in the league in faceoffs. Sixth,” Sullivan repeated for emphasis. “Overall, he wins a lot of faceoffs. If we don’t win the faceoff, we don’t get the blue line. There’s a number of circumstances that are involved.
“It’s not just any one guy. So what I would say to you guys is I think it’s easy for you to pick on one or two guys, and what I will tell you is that I respectfully disagree with all of you. Are we making some mistakes? Sure. But when you get put in those situations as often as those guys do — there was a stretch of 20 games leading up to the last little while where they were doing a pretty admirable job in that same circumstance.”
You can also read the last two sentences to see that Sullivan admitted Carter and Dumoulin have been on the hook for more than a few goals over the “last little while.”
But the larger assertion from Sullivan was clearly to push back on the thundering criticism of those two players, specifically.
The bigger picture and issues are catching the Penguins, who didn’t put up a meaningful challenge in two games against the New York Rangers this week after an ugly loss to the Montreal Canadiens Tuesday.
The Penguins were outscored, 10-2, over two games in New York and never led.
Pittsburgh Penguins Playoff Situation
The Penguins are two points behind the New York Islanders, who were 4-1 winners in San Jose Saturday night, in the battle for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff field and lead the Florida Panthers by just one point.
Defenseman Jan Rutta missed the game Saturday due to injury. The Penguins made Mark Friedman an emergency recall.
Worsening the situation, defenseman Marcus Pettersson didn’t finish the game Saturday. Sullivan said he’s being evaluated for a lower-body injury. Even if Sullivan wanted to make changes on his blue line, that would seem to be impossible at the moment.
But he left no doubt he had no intention of making changes.
“I think the answer to the question is a little bit deeper than than just scratching the surface like you guys do. It’s never any one guy’s fault when those types of things happen,” said Sullivan. “It’s a team game out there. There’s six guys on the ice and it’s all of those guys’ responsibility to execute and we didn’t do it in certain situations.”
Well, when you have 5 guys on the ice and allot of the same results seem to occur-it makes me think of it walks and sounds like a duck comparison.
The only other answer he could be alluding too is that Igor made allot tougher saves to keep out potential goals, than ole tristian Jarry Can did this evening. I think those could of been saved too.
Crosby deserves better.
“There’s six guys on the ice and it’s all of those guys’ responsibility to execute and we didn’t do it in certain situations.” – Then they all gotta go I guess. Ugh.
I mean, this way of thinking is just killing the team. It work some before, so keep doing it? Ugh. And Jarry gets pulled AGAIN. But it’s not the one player. I do agree, however, that IN ADDITION TO the common denominators, there was an infectious lack of winning type play across the board tonight. Tonight. Sully gets to say it was the whole team, because in the end, it was. But like Crosby said, after the second and third goals went in, it just started to get away from them. Those first few goals don’t happen, and it’s a… Read more »
James, thanks for reading the full story!
This idiot has to say crazy shit like Sid. It’s his team, like Sid. . They couldn’t win a playoff series for 4 years? Soto improve! Keep and resign everyone. Let’s get older, softer and slower? These yinzers are stupid, they think finishing 500 is the great. Destroyed this team. Just watch next couple years. To late
People using “yinzer” as a derogatory term are “stupid”. As for the Penguins, Hextall and FSG are the doom of them.
Yeah, but it would be nice for Jarry to make some key saves once in a while. Like Dan said he had good looks at them. How many times did he get beat short side last night? Not making a good showing to earn that next contract. I know it will take heat, but I agree with a lot of what Sully said. He is perhaps the best coach the Pens ever had, and we will be getting him fired at this rate.
It’s in line with his lack of urgency comment the other night, and I can’t disagree with him. Although, it is hard not to get frustrated when you play a good game and the pucks just comfortably end up in the back of your net. However mentally strong, you must snap at one point.
Sully’s time is sadly up. If the GM isn’t willing to try and correct the issues and you’re know you’re going to be stuck with what you got (subpar defense and goaltending, unsmart physical play, and an utter disinterest to get in front of the net) the message or the system or whatever you want to call it has grown stale. Please breathe some new life into this team, one way or another. F#ck!!
I think Sully has proven his system works IF he has the right players to implement it. Sadly, outside the top 2 lines and 58 on defense, he has nothing to work with. It’s time for Hextall to go for assembling this roster. If they get the players that fit and still don’t yield results, that is when it falls on the coach. But sadly for Sid, Geno and Tanger, time is not on their side.
According to our Coach ““Those guys play against top players in defensive situations all the time. “ (referring to Carter and Dumoulin). 65.8% of all of Carter’s shifts start on the fly (5-on5) not in the Defensive Zone. Only 25.2% starts in the defensive zone. 60.8% of Dumoulin’s shifts start o the fly with only 11.0% of his starts in the defensive zone. Coach Sullivan – False, “those guys” have plenty of opportunity to get involved in the offensive zone. The most common forward Carter squares off against is Brock Nelson and Nelson is one of the NYI top forwards as… Read more »
I would also love an explanation for why Carter is still on the second power play unit. He can’t score a goal for anything
As a defender of Sullivan and after reading his comments after last night’s game, it is time for him to go as well. He is clearly in a state of denial and it’s only going to get worse. Where is Dominic Simon when you need him?
Really? To late! Team destroyed and buddies keep getting paid to lose. They’ve made team worse. Even older if possible
Does Reiden have the defense face odd man rushes in practice? They are the worst team in the league handling them. Why did Pettersson leave his side last night leaving his guy wide open? It’s happened way too often as with defenseman chasing behind the net leaving the slot wide open!
Sullivan is in complete denial. I think he’s trying to boost Dumo and Cart’s confidence by going to bat for them in the media, but I’m afraid it’s well past the time for that. He’s turning into Bylsma 2.0 more by the day. And we all know how the first one ended…
Sullivan . .. like all coaches . . is going to have his blind spots. But to suggest that this team would be BETTER with someone else behind the bench is wishful thinking. So his replacement would be . . . . someone fired four other places? If someone wants to make a change just for the sake of change . . .OK . .. lets see how that works out for you. After about two weeks the glow wears off and then you realize your new coach is essentially working on his fifth firing. The guys who have been… Read more »
DK with a great question to Sully in naming the players so he had to respond. I still think Sully is a great coach. Abd I think firing him would be insanely stupid and set the franchise back even further. Hextall absolutely needs to go. That being said….his comments and lack of desire to change anything or even sit those guys for a game or 2 is becoming alarming. And I can’t defend him anymore. If this team falls apart down the stretch and misses the playoffs while he keeps throwing those guys out there…..then my opinion on Sully’s job… Read more »
He’s right. What a horror show. This entire team is a full to a half step behind consistently. They look like 4 year olds at a soccer game. Blind passes, dump instead of possess, spacing is awful too often. But worst of all, the decision making. IF I coached against this team, I’d get the puck behind the net, because both defenseman will come down and 80% of the time no forwards will come down to either cover the opposing player at the net or the shooting lane. Do we play man or zone – if it’s zone, our D… Read more »
The Pens continually dominate play and lose — that is goal tending. Jarry and CDS make some great saves — even Louie Dominque did that — but give up one or two savable goals per game. They have multiple problems other than goaltending, but if they had a legit number one NHL goalie they would not be struggling to make the playoffs.
Fire Hexstall. Keep Sullivan.