Connect with us

Penguins

Penguins Speak: Matheson Pinching, Sullivan Growing, Carter Not Worried…

Published

on

Pittsburgh Penguins, Jeff Carter

It was a relatively low-impact news day as the Pittsburgh Penguins enjoyed their third and final day off from the pounding of the NHL season. Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry was spotted by a few reporters, including PHN, in a protective cast or boot, and the defense pairings have gone back to the OG configuration.

Update on Tristan Jarry.

Otherwise, it was team picture day, but I didn’t spot anyone with a cowlick or silly t-shirt, but maybe a few guys didn’t smile to hide missing teeth. Though the tooth fairy probably didn’t leave a dollar.

The more relaxed Penguins media availabilities yielded a few longer answers, a little bit of insight, and forward-looking players several days removed from a bad loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

There were a few answers and notes that I found interesting. From head coach Mike Sullivan’s in-depth answer complete with self-reflection about his growth as the Pittsburgh Penguins head coach, Mike Matheson admitting how his job is changing, to Jeff Carter shrugging off the standings or their importance.

He didn’t quite say, “who cares, bring it on,” but he basically did.

Mike Sullivan:

I’ll tell you something we haven’t written about nearly enough. Over the march of time, it gets lost, but the current NHL that is experiencing an explosion in scoring, offense, and skating–owes a lot to Mike Sullivan.

Sullivan was a disciple of John Tortorella. For you youngin’s who weren’t a part of the magical 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning run, Tortorella, unleashed the fury. At the end of a dreary NHL era that featured lumbering clods with sticks playing defense, Tortorella dialed up one of the most intense forechecks I’ve ever seen.

Wave after wave. They zoomed past opponents.

Fast forward to 2016, new Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan, who was a longtime Torts assistant, turned loose the Penguins. There were still a lot of defensemen in their 30s getting by on experience and toughness.

The Penguins raced past those defenders. Embarrassed them on a nightly basis, really. Their shot totals bedeviled opponents as they got to open space, shot, and were fast enough to retrieve the loose puck.

The game immediately evolved to keep up with the Penguins. Sullivan hopes he’s still evolving, too.

“I replay all the games in my mind. I don’t think I’m unlike any other coach in any sport. It’s just part of our day. And you know, you replay the game in your mind, and you replay some of the decisions you make and critique or assess yourself and reflect on decisions or interactions…I go through those discussions with myself all the time,” Sullivan said.

“And I like to believe that I learned through those experiences and try to be a better coach and try to be a better person and try to be a better leader. Experience is the best teacher, you know? And so, I also think we learn more from our failures than we do from our successes because it forces you to dig down, soul-search a little bit, and reflect on your own individual part in the experiences. So I’d like to believe that I’m a better coach today than I was, you know, six or seven years ago…”

Mike Matheson:

It’s not easy to resurrect your career with a monstrous contract that fans and your employer want to hold over you. But he has and I respect that.

Mike Matheson speaks plainly and honestly. And usually with a bit of insight.

The Penguins defensemen are not getting the job done lately. PHN will dive into that in much more detail, but it is relevant because of the above Sullivan evolution. The game needs defensemen to play a different style.

Brian Dumoulin is an old-school, stay-home defenseman, and he’s about to find himself on the receiving end of a lot of handwringing because he’s not keeping up with the faster game.

However, Matheson can keep up with the game and actually lead the rush.

“I think the game is getting more offensive. Defensemen are definitely more involved. It seems like teams are asking defensemen to pinch a lot more,” Matheson said. “I feel like growing up, a defenseman getting caught pinching was the automatic way to get yourself back in the stands, and now it’s expected. And if you’re not doing that, you’re not doing your job…”

That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?

Yes, think of the heaps of angst some Pittsburgh Penguins fans toss toward Kris Letang for pinching. Sure, mistakes happen, and knowing when to gamble is a learned skill.

Jeff Carter:

The man, the myth, the legend.

Carter is not having a good April. It’s nearly disastrous as he has a minus-10 rating in just eight games. He’s been a minus in each of the 10 games since March 29.

Is Jeff Carter looking at the standings or worried about the matchups? Not BJC. He shrugged.

“I’m sure everybody’s looking at it. It’s fairly tight right now. Doesn’t really mean a whole lot. All we can really worry about are these last five games and trying to rack up some points here…”

The Penguins are just one point ahead of the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metro Division. The loser of that battle falls to the second wild card (or must overtake the Boston Bruins) and plays the Florida Panthers.

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.

5 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
5 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Paul
Paul
26 days ago

Won’t be surprised if Beaulieu and Friedman become the third pair eventually. Be afraid, Tom Wilson. Be very afraid. #CapitalPunishment

Last edited 26 days ago by Paul
BIG B
BIG B
26 days ago

LETANG DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES PINCHING , HE MAKES HIS MISTAKES WHEN HE MAKES AN INSANE PASS THAT HAS NO CHANCES OF SUCCESS WITH 3-5 OF THE OTHER TEAMS PLAYERS IN HIS WAY. WHEN HE PLAYS SMART HE IS AN ALMOST PERT D-MAN.

Jeff Young
Jeff Young
26 days ago

Next season, Matheson takes Letang’s place.

moe
moe
25 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Young

Matheson is that good, but Letang is Letang.
Keep both, pair them with stay home D.

trackback

[…] This quote from Pittsburgh Penguins and former Boston College defenceman Mike Matheson on the expectation for today’s NHL […]

Join PHN Extra!

Join PHN+ today for exclusive content from Dan, Dave 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.