The Pittsburgh Penguins were not good enough for about 50 minutes of the 60-minute hockey game. Next generation superstar Nathan MacKinnon with his high scoring sidekick Mikko Rantanen was spectacular. The Penguins superstars were not so great, except Sidney Crosby who willed his team into a competitive game.
Crosby’s natural hat trick which included a pair of goals in the final minute of the second period and the first four minutes of the third period was all of the offense the Penguins could muster despite Colorado goalie Philipp Grubauer who was fighting the puck.
The Penguins finished with only 25 shots, which isn’t nearly good enough against a struggling goaltender.
Structurally, the Penguins wanted to be the more talented team. It must have been a bitter pill to swallow watching MacKinnon and Rantanen perform the offensive highwire act the Penguins used to cherish (and still do). The Penguins too tried to generate offense on the rush with pretty plays, just like Colorado. Instead, the Penguins looked like the old guy with unnaturally dark hair and out-of-style clothes trying to blend into the college scene.
Finally, in the third period, the Penguins simplified their game. They “uglied” it up and played hard in the corners and on the wall. They cycled. They began throwing the puck to the net and fighting for those pucks. The change put Colorado on their heels, and the Penguins were able to drive the play.
“I thought our commitment level increased as the game went along,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. That was a nice way of saying the Penguins lacked a good level for the first 39 minutes.
The Penguins just couldn’t get another goal from anyone else buy Crosby. Dominik Simon, who assisted on Crosby’s third goal was robbed of a great deflection goal, but there are few others who can say they created offense.
Lots of spectators, though Crosby is worth the price of admission. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan put the positive spin on things, “I thought our commitment level increased as the game went along.”
One issue to watch–why does Phil Kessel’s game fall off a cliff when he has to play with Derick Brassard? The Penguins third line wasn’t worth the free half of a BOGO coupon for Spam (apologies to my Spam lovers), despite Brassard–Zach Aston-Reese being one of the Penguins bright spots for the past five games.