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Penguins’ Loss Stings … But These Teams Have Real Pain

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Marc-Andre Fleury, NHL trade

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a scheduled day off Tuesday, and that probably is a good thing.

If nothing else, it will give anyone who had trouble sleeping after the way they played while squandering a two-goal lead in what became a 3-2 overtime loss in Montreal Monday night — and there might have been a few who had such an issue — a chance to catch up on their rest.

The Penguins were outworked, out-chanced and generally outplayed by an opponent that has been undergoing a major rebuild and relies heavily on promising, but largely unproven, young talent. But whatever the Canadiens lacked in experience, they more than made up for with superior energy and enthusiasm.

Finding a way to take two points out of that game clearly meant a great deal to one of the teams. The other one flew back to Pittsburgh after it was over.

Still, as much as that defeat stung — and it should have stung badly — it remains that the Penguins have taken five of six points out of their first three games, which projects to 137 over 82 games. That would shatter the league record of 132 set by Montreal in 1976-77 and obviously is not a realistic objective.

Yes, the Penguins absolutely should have six, but every team in the league lets some points slip away over the course of a season.

Heck, several clubs already have made a lot of progress toward filling their quota of those, including some that were predicted to do good things in 2022-23 — and remain capable of it — along with others that are living down to expectations. They include:

*** Minnesota, where former Penguins winger and assistant GM Bill Guerin has assembled a roster that many believe is capable of making a run at a championship, is 0-3 and has allowed a league-high 20 goals in the process. Things have gone so badly for the Wild that Marc-Andre Fleury, one of the NHL’s most popular and accomplished goalies in recent decades, has been booed at Xcel Energy Center. And, Fleury said, rightly so, considering his bloated 8.37 goals-against average and meager save percentage of .776. Don’t look for Guerin to do anything rash this early in the season, though, because that lineup is too good to continue to accumulate losses.

*** Vancouver, where things have soured so quickly that the Canucks conducted a players-only meeting after a 6-4 come-from-ahead loss in Washington Monday, Think about that: The season is only a week old, and the guys inside Vancouver’s locker room already have deemed it necessary to take a step that’s usually reserved for the most dire situations. Are they being proactive or just panicking? Bruce Boudreau was praised for his work as coach after being hired last December, but is in the final season of the two-year deal he signed then and might be in trouble if things don’t turn around soon. Former Pittsburgh Penguins executives Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin run Vancouver’s front office, and could be tempted to make some significant changes if the slide goes on much longer.

*** Columbus, where expectations for the coming season — and the long-term future — spiked when Johnny Gaudreau, late of Calgary, signed with the Blue Jackets as a free agent this summer. Columbus has scored only five goals en route to a 0-3 start and will be without top-line winger Patrik Laine for several more weeks because of a sprained elbow. The schedule-maker is giving the Blue Jackets a chance to pick up some points, however, since the aforementioned Canucks will be visiting Columbus Tuesday evening.

*** San Jose, where Pittsburgh Penguins assistant Mike Vellucci was a serious contender for the head-coaching job that eventually went to David Quinn. Unlike a couple of the teams mentioned above, almost no one expected great things from the Sharks in 2022-23 and in that regard, they have not disappointed. The Sharks have lost their first four games, all in regulation, and have looked pretty bad doing it most of the time.

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Rob
Rob
1 month ago

Fleury will bounce back. He always does. The wild have a pretty solid team in front of him and i doubt that all of the goals given up are all on Fleury. If a team gives up that many goals there is usually a break down in the system.