The Pittsburgh Penguins and their public comments were not sullen, somber, or even worried just 24 hours after they were upset by the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of their best-of-five Qualifying Round series. Even head coach Mike Sullivan praised his group’s effort last night and their effort on Sunday in practice.
It was business as usual, even when asked about losing seven playoff games in a row.
Defenseman Brian Dumoulin even seemed a little surprised by the question.
“It’s something we haven’t even thought about or talked about,” Dumoulin said. “Right now, we lost Game 1. We’re trying to learn where we get better in that game, and we’re onto game two.”
One point the Penguins were asked to address, by Pittsburgh Hockey Now and by WDVE morning sports good-dude Mike Prisuta was the missed shots.
The Penguins had an extraordinary 96 shot attempts, but only 41 hit the net. Montreal blocked 27, which means the Penguins missed 28 shots (and some of the blocked shots were the result of imprecise aim, as well).
“I think it was a mix of a lot of things. I think we hit a lot of posts, we missed the net a few times,” Sheary replied to PHN. “To their credit, they blocked a lot of shots, too. I think its a good thing that we had that high of a shot volume, and if we continue to do that, I think we’ll be successful.”
A few shots? We’ll go with that, though we don’t recall too many posts, either.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan was also asked what he thought of that high volume of missed shots. Sullivan at first offered a sardonic, dry dismissal.
“I guess it would tell us that we missed the net, how many times? Twenty-eight times,” Sullivan said. After several moments and perhaps thinking better of the deadpan response, Sullivan delved into the topic.
“What I see with some of the metrics you guys are pointing at is that we had a fair amount of opportunities to get pucks to the net. Obviously, we had a fair amount of shots. And we had a fair amount of opportunities to get pucks to the net where we missed the net. Certainly, we can bear down in certain areas.”
The Goals Against
There has been a lot of consternation amongst Pittsburgh Penguins fans about Jack Johnson being on the ice for a pair of goals-against. Johnson was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He flattened Jesperi Kotkaniemi as Penguins goalie Matt Murray had trouble tracking a fluttering puck. Kotkaniemi’s hand deflected the puck into the net as Johnson hit him to the ice.
Sullivan sternly pushed back on suggestions that either Johnson or his defense partner Justin Schultz bore any responsibility. With the help of Sullivan’s words, PHN will diagram the first goal, which brought the most heat.
Sullivan chided his forwards, but not before drawing questioning a reporter, too.
“Based on that question, you’re pinning the goal on those two guys?”
In fairness, we knew what the reporter meant, and sometimes honest questions can be misconstrued. After clarification that the reporter was not casting blame, Sullivan dissected the goals simply.
“Both goals were scored as a result of over-backchecking. And what happened was the puck ended up going to the second wave.”
PHN will diagram the goals and explain the play in greater detail, for anyone who wants to know. Of course, our story isn’t likely to dampen the enthusiastic Johnson-bashing, but for those who want to know, Sullivan’s words provided enough evidence to map out the events confidently.