VANCOUVER, British Columbia — It was not the game anyone expected. The Pittsburgh Penguins lost their last two to Western Conference contenders and have been disorganized or sloppy in those losses to the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. But surely a couple of days to regroup and facing the one-win Vancouver Canucks would cure what ailed the Penguins.
It did not.
The Penguins failed to convert a few first-period chances and scored only once on 27-year-old well-traveled goalie Spencer Martin in a 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
I cannot put my finger on it, but there is an awkward feeling in the Penguins’ locker room. It’s a little bit of surprise, disbelief, and a heaping of disgust.
Pittsburgh Penguins Takeaways
In another ugly performance, the Penguins were again careless with the puck, sloppy in their own zone, and lacked a consistent effort.
Those aren’t just PHN’s words. Those are the words of the Pittsburgh Penguins, too. Rather than a report card on a short turnaround (the Penguins are in Seattle on Saturday), we’ll bring the Penguins’ locker room directly to you below.
1. The Canucks Were Ripe for the Picking
The middle of the ice was wide open in the first period. The Canucks were loose. The Penguins exploited the Vancouver carlessness for a few short breakaways but didn’t convert.
The Penguins wanted to play on the rush, and when Vancouver tightened up, the Penguins receded to the perimeter. No second chances, no sustained pressure.
2. A Few Good Performances:
As a small report card, Brock McGinn had his best game of the season. McGinn was buzzing. His puck pressure created a couple of turnovers and a whisp of pressure. He had two shots, two misses, and two hits.
Marcus Pettersson was also solid, despite some uneven play around him, including from defense partner Jeff Petry. Pettersson scrambled to cover open shots–that should not have been open–and recover from turnovers.
He nullified a few mistakes made by others.
3. A Few More Bad Performances:
The good performances were few.
Jeff Petry was generous with the puck and his positioning.
Kris Letang was very good but also had some leaky moments with the puck; he had too many bad moments to classify it as a good game.
Brian Dumoulin was again beaten a few times and demoted to the third pair.
P.O Joseph was elevated to the top pairing. That should tell you how angry Sullivan was. Joseph was pretty good. He recovered to take away a few Vancouver chances. His mobility is an asset. However, can he do the dirty work in front of the Penguins’ net?
Something has to give on the Penguins’ top d-pair. It can’t be as bad as it’s been.
4. Role Players, Bueller?
The role players have no jam, spark, or defining moments. There’s no scrappiness and not much fight in these Penguins.
The third and fourth lines sometimes must get ugly.
Friday, the Penguins lacked the urgency and desperation for second chances and sustained zone pressure until the first half of the third period. However, a bad bounce went against them, which was the game.
Pittsburgh Penguins Locker Room:
“It’s a tough loss (long pause). It’s hard to say what’s the problem right now. When you play hard, every team is so good right now. It’s the NHL. It’s better every year,” Malkin said. “And we need to play right. Win faceoffs, don’t take penalties, you know, win every shift. You know how we play. Hopefully, we’ll break the bad luck tomorrow. Stop the bleeding.
It’s nothing strategy (related). We need a heads up, and everyone supports each other, and we keep going.”
What is missing?
“I think at some points, maybe some urgency. Execution. We had some looks to get back in the game. And we didn’t (finish them), especially tonight,” Crosby said. “So, I don’t necessarily think it’s the same thing. But if anything has been consistent, it’s been our starts where we’ve struggled. So we got to establish that.”
Has frustration set in?
“I don’t think anybody likes losing. I guess it depends on how you classify that,” Crosby said. “I’d say that nobody likes losing, and we’re not happy with the results right now, and we’ve just got to get better.”
Lack of intensity in the first two periods?
“Yeah, I just don’t think we’re putting the 60-minute effort together. And it’s hard to win in this league when you don’t.”
How concerned are you about the losing streak and the turnovers which have fed into it?
“Well, you’re always concerned … it’s important that we continue to try to get better every day, every game,” Sullivan said. “It’s our job to figure out how to fix it. And so that’s what we’ve got to do.”
What was your message to the team?
“It’s not good enough.”