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Penguins React: Finally a Bit of Anger, Self-Criticism, ‘We Weren’t Good Enough’

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NHL trade, Pittsburgh Penguins Brian Boyle shoves Washington's Tom Wilson.
Brian Boyle shoves Washington's Tom Wilson.

Finally, some self-criticism and a bit of anger from the Pittsburgh Penguins after a loss, this one a 6-3 defeat Saturday against the Washington Capitals with important standings points at stake.

Not since a 5-1 no-show loss to the Rangers on March 25 had the Penguins seemed really very riled up after a loss – and there have now been four of those in row.

The Penguins players who spoke, as well as coach Mike Sullivan, after Saturday’s game didn’t offer words quite as biting as that earlier Rangers loss, but they got their message across.

“Tonight, for me, was a different story than some of the other games,” Sullivan said. “Tonight we just weren’t good enough. We didn’t play well enough. We didn’t execute. We were careless with the puck. And so tonight we beat ourselves in a lot of ways.

“Give Washington credit. They played hard. They were opportunistic on their chances. But tonight we didn’t play well enough. We beat ourselves in a lot of ways.”

And in case Sullivan wasn’t clear, this was winger Brian Boyle: “We weren’t good enough to win. We played well for two periods, and then we weren’t good enough to win.

“That’s just not OK this time of year. The schedule that we have, that we’re playing, it should be a good test. We need to do the right thing (Sunday).”

The Penguins play a second straight afternoon home game Sunday with Nashville, hungry to climb back into the playoff picture, visiting.

That comes after a stretch against several strong opponents – the Rangers three times, Colorado twice, Minnesota and Washington.

The mounting losses and the win by the Capitals puts the Penguins in somewhat of a precarious position in third place in the Metropolitan Division. Washington, sitting in a wildcard spot with two games in hand on the Penguins, climbed to within four points of the Penguins.

The Penguins were tied 3-3 against Washington going into the third period.

“You could kind of see it tonight,” defenseman John Marino, who returned after missing a game because of a non-COVID-19 illness, said of what’s been tripping up the Penguins.

“We played really well the first two periods. We kind of let it slip away in the third. We played a little loose and the puck’s in the back of the net. At some point you’ve got to play a full 60-minute game.”

Boyle drove home the point that “style points” don’t mean anything compared with actual points at this time of year and moving forward.

“Come playoff time, I don’t care how we play; we’ve got to get wins,” Boyle said. “All that matters is winning.”

And to get back to the point where wins are happening again?

“I think you’ve got to be honest with yourself as a player, honest with your teammates and get back to the fundamental way your team’s built, what gives you success,” Boyle said.

“I think we need to focus on details. We need to start by defending. That’s all over the ice. If you don’t have the puck, you’re defending it. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the other team’s end or the neutral zone or our end.

“Those are the things that help you get out of (funks) like this. You really have to be disciplined in that, and communication on the ice as well. Adversity, you see which way you’re going to go with it, but a lot of times … every team I’ve been on has hit a rough patch during the season. You learn a lot from it. You learn a lot about yourself and your team.”

Boyle is the Penguins’ elder statesman at 37 and perhaps a voice of experience and reason. One of at least a few of those.

“We know what we have to do, and we have the leadership in the room to right the ship,” Marino said. “There’s enough older guys that know what it takes to win at this level. They’ve done it before. … We’re still pretty confident.”

That word, confident, has been thrown around quite a bit lately by the Penguins. Saturday, Marino was the only one who used it.

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Shelly is a columnist and reporter for Pittsburgh Hockey Now. She was a Penguins beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and remains a contributor to The Hockey News. Catch her on Twitter @_shellyanderson

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PensPatty
PensPatty
7 months ago

Don’t think they played well the whole game….and Jarry is imploding….

David
David
7 months ago

I don’t agree with Sullivan’s decision to pull Jarry when on the PP with almost 2 minutes left. Go with the PP at that point. Wait until under 1 minute left. One lost possession and the game is over and you lose the PP advantage, and that is exactly what happened.

Last edited 7 months ago by David
David
David
7 months ago

If Jarry doesn’t play better than he has of late, the Pens will not survive the 1st round.

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
7 months ago
Reply to  David

Again!

Mike Kirkell
Mike Kirkell
7 months ago
Reply to  David

I doubt the Pens survive round one even if he does.

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
7 months ago

Somebody tell Sullivan you don’t get points for how well you paid. You get points if you win period’

RYAN
RYAN
7 months ago

Records against Washington, Rangers and Carolina?

1-3, 1-3, 1-2

They are what they’re record says they are.

Wasnt
7 months ago

My opinion is the Pens won’t go far in the playoffs but hoped they could at least beat the Craps and I’d be ok. Craps are very similar to the Pens, read some fan discussions on the site Russian Machine Never Breaks, their fans sound very similar to the Pens. I am hoping the Pens slip to fourth place but not because they can’t beat the Rangers but the Craps facing the Rangers with Ryan Reaves in a 7 games series would be awesome. Poor Jarry at times looked like a fish flopping around and when he’s in that mode……well… Read more »

Chase Cranson
Chase Cranson
7 months ago
Reply to  Wasnt

Please the rebuilding will be painful it was delayed last few years but the reality is the Pens milked the core my Question is Sullivan the one or the scouts need go they need young big hungry hockey players this team currently has to many of the same type of players let all the free agents go in the off season and go to work it can be done.

RYAN
RYAN
7 months ago
Reply to  Chase Cranson

All they need is to bottom out and get a couple of top 5 overall picks. 2031 is gonna be sweet 😎

Chase Cranson
Chase Cranson
7 months ago
Reply to  RYAN

2031 Eh?

RYAN
RYAN
7 months ago
Reply to  Chase Cranson

As in the cries to “rebuild around” a 35 year old center on a team with not much else is beyond silly. And yinzer act like that’s a legitimate plan.

Mike Kirkell
Mike Kirkell
7 months ago

As annoying as the third period meltdown was, the more frustrating thing in this one was the first two periods. The Capitals are meh, nothing more than a bubble playoff team. And the result after two? A tie game where they’re quoted saying they were good with the first two periods. They’re one and done. The elite first line isn’t an elite playoff line. Whatever adrenaline Malkin had us gone; he’s out of gas and looping and cheating to compensate. The defense? Who’s the Pens third best defenseman? Tells you all you need to know about that crew. Jarry? Even… Read more »

Katz
Katz
7 months ago

Why don’t they just say ‘no comment’ ? That’s a rhetorical question but the cliches are so devalued. It’s results that matter. I’ve been saying since Sept it’s all about the playoffs and this roster doesn’t cut it. Many derided me, but I could care less. Talk is so nothingness. Sullivan believes in the group then let them validate his belief in them. I don’t …not since 2018 and have been saying so , bring up youth , whoever, and turn them loose. Put Kapanen on the PK it’s the one thing he does well. And for g-ds sake stop… Read more »

Mike Kirkell
Mike Kirkell
7 months ago
Reply to  Katz

The only two possible saving graces? A goalie or a line to steal a series. Unfortunately, Jarry isn’t stealing squat, and the only line that in theory could steal a series, the Crosby line, has shown over the last two years it’s built for October and November, not April and May.

RYAN
RYAN
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Kirkell

At least you’ll say it out loud, Mike…the delusional press in town acts like all they need to do is keep Crosby, Guentzel; rust and Letang and there’ll be a parade in 2023.

Delusional.

Uros
Uros
7 months ago

Well, I’ve watched all the games so far. I must admit I fell asleep during the 2nd period. I understood there was no effort. Maybe Crosby should’ve rested a bit more because it was painful watching him play that way. Someone already said that Jarry looks ready for the playoffs, like last year. Samsonov was terrible, but Jarry managed to be worse. But all the team was really effortless, not in a good way. It seemed that they couldn’t care less. As I’ve said in the beginning, I’ve seen all the games and this team is not this bad. There… Read more »

Paul
Paul
7 months ago

HexBurke had ample opportunity to acquire Gibson, who wants to be here in the worst way. But nooooo, they decided to have a child with zero career playoff series wins do a man’s job. Again. If I’m Crosby, I tell the higher-ups to get me a one-way ticket to Colorado as soon as possible it not earlier. I would not waste another season here, not at 34 years old. Otherwise, that would tell me that he doesn’t give a rat’s rear end about Stanley Cups any more.

Last edited 7 months ago by Paul
ric jefferies
ric jefferies
7 months ago

Boyle is right ,all players must defend and it starts as soon as the other team gets the puck wherever the puck is. Defending is an organization of play that can be learned by all players. Unlike scoring which generally takes creativity to be consistent .

Frank
Frank
7 months ago

Plenty of blame to go around. Those responsible are too many to name. Of course this same group was being viewed as a real contender just 3 weeks ago. The assorted camps that do not like Sullivan . . . or Malkin . .. or Petterson . .. or Jarry . .. or the “target du jour” will stay on that course. With all due respect, it does not matter. The team is what it is. Hopefully “what it is” turns out to be much better before May 1. But if at any point during the first 70 or so… Read more »