To be fair, the Colorado Avalanche are the best team in the NHL. The Pittsburgh Penguins showed they could have success against the best team by going toe-to-toe on Saturday, and they hit the chalkboard in the first period to pin down Colorado in the first period.
If you stopped there, there’s a good bit to build upon for the Penguins.
Evan Rodrigues and Bryan Rust hung their hat on that first period and the later third period push.
“No, like (PHN) said, we did a good job of hanging on to pucks, and I think when we did that throughout the game, that’s when we had success. When we became either high risk or just not strong enough on it, they took advantage of it,” Evan Rodrigues said. “And now, especially that top line, there’s so much speed and skill that you can’t really even give them an inch…We did a lot of good things, but it’s just cleaning up what went wrong and trying to learn from it and get better.”
Rodrigues had another strong game. He scored an impact goal with a strong individual effort late in the second period, which pulled the Penguins to within 3-2. Without Dominik Simon to hang angst and disappointment upon, many in the fanbase are fitting Rodrigues for a bell to wear as the resident scapegoat.
To scapegoat Rodrigues would be a mistake. But the Penguins’ third-line configuration could put a couple of others in the crosshairs for fans and opponents. That’s just one of several points, including the Penguins’ team speed, that needs to be digested over the next few weeks in preparation for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Colorado Avalanche are really good, but the Penguins could have played with them and beaten them, but they don’t appear ready; they’re not a finished product yet.