Connect with us

Penguins

Are Barry Trotz and the Islanders in the Penguins Heads?

Published

on

Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders Barry Trotz

I’m sure Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan would denounce a question that won’t leave my brain. He would point to a new group of players. The lack of carry-over from year to year, how talented the Penguins are, and the number of good things the Penguins did on Sunday in their Game 1 loss to the New York Islanders, 4-3 in OT.

I could ask the question on Tuesday morning, but Sullivan prefers questions about the specific game at hand on game days, and I already know the Penguins coach would bristle at even the query.

Some questions are best asked rhetorically.

Is Barry Trotz in the Penguins’ head?

Sullivan would be correct to bristle at such a notion, but there is also no denying the Pittsburgh Penguins have lost 10 of their last 11 playoff games, including the last seven against Barry Trotz teams.

Trotz’s Washington Capitals ended the Penguins’ three-peat hopes. Trotz’s New York Islanders summarily dismissed the Pittsburgh Penguins in a four-game sweep in 2019. The aftershocks of the loss broke open a schism within the organization, which saw the Phil Kessel trade and nearly an Evgeni Malkin trade.

It’s not that the Washington or New York teams were better than the Penguins, either. No, especially not the 2019 Islanders team, which was as rag-tag as playoff teams get, and were subsequently swept in the following round.

But they sure ate the Penguins lunch and asked for seconds, too.

That 2019 Round One series not only ripped open the Penguins’ flaws but also began with a 4-3 OT loss in which the Penguins hit crossbars and nearly won it several times.

New York won the next three, too.

One controversy in that series you probably didn’t hear much about–a New York Islanders player, who I will not name, told a TV colleague the Islanders knew the Penguins would buckle if they waited them out. The Islanders were so sure they could create mistakes by being patient, the player said, the first goal didn’t matter as much to them.

The New York organization was displeased that a player would publicly admit it, and there was some question if it should have been off the record. But what was said was said. And reported on television. Lou Lamoriello teams do not like prying media, and that admission went over like a sandpaper swab on a COVID test.

But the Pittsburgh Penguins have not disproven it, either.

Sullivan Said It

There is the glass-half-full approach to the Pittsburgh Penguins Game 1 loss. PHN identified three things to build on. The Penguins got on their heels in the third period and quickly responded.

“…There were moments in the third period when they had some momentum. We had some push back as well,” Sullivan said. “(Kapanen) scores a big goal for us to respond right after they scored. That’s a huge point in the game. You know, a lot of teams probably would have been extremely deflated. And I thought it was a great response by our guys.”

And it was. The Penguins showed character and resilience.

Nor could they close the deal. New York weathered a little storm to begin overtime but generally had more scoring chances and better chances.

“…From a process standpoint. I know we have more to give. I know we have the ability to be a better team,” Sullivan also said. “…There were moments when we were really good in the game. I thought there were moments when they had it…”

But for the seventh straight playoff game against Barry Trotz and the fifth straight playoff game with the New York Islanders, the Islanders had more of “it” and won.

The Penguins need to beat the hard-nosed coach who can instruct his team to bear down at key times and who obviously have enough confidence to weather Penguins’ storms and win. At this point, there are no surprises.

“The more you play a team, the more there’s familiarity. You try to play a game that allows you to play to your strengths. With technology and the preparation process as it is, I also think the amount of times that we played one another this year and with the schedule set up the way it was, I don’t know that there are any secrets,” Sullivan said. “I think the Islanders are well aware of the identity of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and I think we’re well aware of their identity as well and how we need to play to have success. So it’s really about effort. It’s about execution and making sure that we try to get to our game as early and as often as we can.”

The Penguins surely cannot go down 2-0 on Tuesday night, having lost both games at PPG Paints Arena. There will be 9,000 screaming, passion-overflowing fans, many of whom have not seen a hockey game since February of 2020.

It will be emotional. It should be LOUD. And the Penguins must win, or I will have to ask the question out loud of those involved. And many of you will join me.

Is Barry Trotz in the Penguins’ heads?

Subscribe to PHN+

Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

15 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
15 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Paul
Paul
4 months ago

Ya mon, Islanders own the frozen little birds‼️🤣🤣🤣

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
4 months ago

Answer: No.

Tom Haley
Tom Haley
4 months ago

Or is Trotz a better coach?

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
4 months ago

YES Trotz has Sullivans number and Sullivan does not adjust. It is his way or the highway and he has lost 11 of 12 playoff games!

SD Pens Fan
SD Pens Fan
4 months ago

You sir are an absolute idiot. He has lost 11 of the last 14 playoff games, not 11 of 12. I guess the 2 wins against the Caps in 2018 don’t count because they don’t fit your story… Sullivan has also won 39 of 69 playoff games as coach of the Penguins including twice as many Stanley Cups as Trotz has won.

Lisa Nath
Lisa Nath
4 months ago

I had thought the pens solved them during the regular season but maybe that does not translate in the playoffs

Katz
Katz
4 months ago

I know many thought me as either too cynical or a troll. However I’ve been consistent .

1) It’s about the playoffs
2) Sullivan is stubborn to a fault
3 ) I’ve also been highly critical of Malkin

But I’ve said from before the season began that I’m from Missouri now , It’s ‘Show Me ‘time and the regular season really matters little.

And I do think Trotz is a better Coach than Sullivan. That doesn’t make Sullivan a bad Coach but Sullivan is his own worst enemy.

SD Pens Fan
SD Pens Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  Katz

You have also been consistent that the Penguins would win as long as Malkin doesn’t play. You got your wish, Malkin didn’t play…..

Frank
Frank
4 months ago

What “adjustment” does Sullivan make for poor goaltending? That sweep a couple of years was not being “in someone’s head” as much as being in “someone’s face.” The Pens were over rated and the Islanders underrated and played with a chip on their shoulder. The only “edge” the Penguins had was the potential of the highlight reel goal. But those plays are not very possible when you find yourself plastered into the glass or on your posterior. No Trotz is not in their heads BUT he has found a way to neutralize the Pens and the Pens, try as they… Read more »

crazyhorse87
crazyhorse87
4 months ago

Matheson and Rodrigues didn’t look as good as could be, they may be better after one game back. Tanev was good, but he should feel better after one game back as well. McCann needs to shoot, the Islander shot blockers will feel it, wear them down that way. If you can’t hit them with the body, hit them with the puck, make them pay for it. Trotz will have his advantages at home, the Pens will have to play their brand of hockey in New York, utilize their speed capitalizing on their mistakes. Out-patient them, be prepared for their aggressiveness… Read more »

jackw
jackw
4 months ago

Trotz is certainly in the heads of some Penguin “fans”. Those would be the same fans that would somehow believe that it would have made sense to trade Malkin – the absolute key to the Penguins winning another Cup. The same fans that would declare Sunday’s overtime winner to be an embarrassing effort by Jarry while ignoring Marino’s play immediately prior to the goal. Not to mention the fact that if it was Crosby that scored in exactly the same way they would have declared that it was an absolutely out of this world brilliant play by Sid that no… Read more »

Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
4 months ago
Reply to  jackw

Malkin was a great player, a hall of fame player. But he is done. He is a turnover machine and is just too slow to compete. It was great watching him and I wish him the best wherever he is next season.

Steven Kalabokes
Steven Kalabokes
4 months ago

Barry Trotz is not in the Penguins heads. He’s not on the ice. The Penguins outplayed the Islanders for most of the gave. They didn’t get the dirty goals and perhaps should have shot the puck on occasion as Gudreaux did instead of passing it. And only if Sid could have flipped up the puck when he had Sorokin beat instead of allowing Sorokin to make an excellent toe save, it would have been a different game. The goaltending was not that good but I know Jarry will bounce back and have a great game tonight. I predict the Islanders… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Steven Kalabokes
Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
4 months ago

It is abundantly clear that we need some bangers. We need a Hornqvist that will fight for the front of the net. We need some D-men that can clean the front of our net. The Pens are fun to watch as they race up and down and score goals in the regular season. They don’t have the beef to win playoff hockey. Teams abuse 87 because we don’t have an enforcer. Burke and Hex will try to change that. It is also clear that we are not faster than NYI. Maybe on a breakaway but on quickness to loose pucks… Read more »

Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
4 months ago

Join PHN Extra!

Join PHN+ today for exclusive content from Dan and Shelly plus a completely Google ad-free experience.

PHN+

Or enter your email below to sign-up for our mailing list.

Thank you!

Something went wrong.

No thanks. I don't want.