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Jarry Falls Flat; Leaky Goals Sink Penguins, Bring up Big Questions

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NHL Trade, Pittsburgh Penguins Tristan Jarry

There aren’t many ways to sugarcoat the Pittsburgh Penguins situation. There just aren’t. The Pittsburgh Penguins outplayed the New York Islanders for much of their Round One series. Unlike 2019 when the Penguins flailed and thrashed about in futile attempts, they controlled this series against the New York Islanders, but goalie Tristan Jarry buckled under the bright lights of the NHL playoffs.

The Penguins controlled play for a majority of the series, yet they still lost.

“I thought we got better as the series went on, and I think you look at two overtime games that we lost–being able to win one of those would have been huge. But I think we did a lot of good things,” Sidney Crosby said. “The last couple of games, I thought we played really well– (we) made some big mistakes tonight. I missed a guy, and a couple of chances end up in the back of the net.”

Crosby took some ownership, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. He did whiff on Anthony Beauvillier a couple of times. Jake Guentzel whiffed in Game 5.

Jake Guentzel or Jared McCann could have popped one more, too. No, the Penguins didn’t toss their goalie under the bus or publicly humiliate him (*ahem Mr. Ovechkin), but when the final accounting is done, the Penguins can’t answer the question: “What else could we have done” without starting with Jarry.

Unfortunately, so much of the series loss rests on the Penguins goaltending and Jarry. Three long-range wristers beat Jarry high-glove in Game 1 when the Penguins otherwise controlled play. There were other softies along the way, big rebounds served like pizzas, but the Penguins survived them in Games 2 and 3.

The Penguins couldn’t overcome Jarry backing into the net to give Anthony Beauvillier far too much net for the Islanders’ first goal in Game 5. And, of course, a play which will stick with Jarry for a long time–the tragic giveaway and flop against Josh Bailey to end Game 5.

And then Jarry’s collapse in Game 6. The big rebounds which ponged off Jarry like a rubber ball became Islanders’ goals. The whiffs against Brock Nelson and a point shot from Ryan Pulock.

In singularity, any of the goals are forgivable.

In totality, Jarry did not hold his end of the bargain. Sullivan called a timeout when the Penguins yielded three goals in less than three minutes in the second period. Two of three were stoppable. To many’s surprise, Sullivan left Jarry in the game.

“I’m not going to discuss the discussions we have as a coaching staff and the discussions we have at any position,”  Sullivan said as he quickly shut down any discussion of the matter.

The Penguins blew third-period leads in three games (Games 1, 3, and 5) and coughed up leads in five of the six games, including three leads in Game 6.

The Penguins needed a big save that never came. And now, big questions loom both about Jarry’s future and about the future of the Pittsburgh Penguins core.

Will Sidney Crosby play another season with both Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang?

Pittsburgh Hockey Now believes at least one, if not both, will return. Letang had a great season. Malkin battled injuries but was brilliant once he found his stride later in February.

There was no shortage of energy or production from either.

But…

“You win games, and you lose games as a team…,” Sullivan said.

That’s three straight early playoff exits, and the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, like most businesses, has taken a beating through the pandemic. Per the NHL-NHLPA agreement, the salary cap will remain flat until the organizations recoup their lost revenues, but that will be over the course of several years.

Finances will play a role (and it could go either way–to retool or to keep the core together because they are likely to make the playoffs). Nor is the new Penguins regime led by President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke and GM Ron Hextall known to prefer smaller, faster hockey in which the Penguins specialize.

“We didn’t lose because we weren’t big enough,” Sullivan said defiantly.

Changes must be made, but just how drastic?

Changes will be made…but just how drastic?

Sidney Crosby will turn 34 in August. Evgeni Malkin will be 35 in July. Kris Letang will be 35 next April. If the team keeps the Penguins core together, what becomes of Jarry?

Can the Penguins charge into another playoff series with a goalie who was not adequate in his first go as the starter?

Before Game 6, Jarry had a .902 save percentage and a 2.85 GAA; those stats belie the shakiness, rebounds, and close calls which resulted. After Game 6, his final tally bubbled around an .886 save percentage.

That’s not good enough.

Jarry was at times brilliant in the regular season. He thieved no less than 10 points this season. From this one to the ink and paper outlets, the headlines from media outlets often used the word “steal.”

But like so many goalies the Pittsburgh Penguins have broken in the postseason, New York broke Jarry. The glove hand issue seemed to appear out of nowhere. Whether it was a coached technique or a sudden bad habit, Jarry’s glove dangled by skates.

And the New York Islanders put pucks up high. Again, again..six, seven times, again.

In a series marked by missed chances and opportunity, the Islanders didn’t miss their chances. Jarry didn’t take them away, either. And he gifted one biggie.

But make one save, and it’s a different series. That must weigh on Jarry, who has waited for years for his chance. At 23-years-old, he was passed over for Matt Murray, which delayed his arrival by another year, maybe two. Now, he’s 26 and no longer a “young” goalie.

His big chance did not go the way anyone wanted it to go.

Now, let me address the Marc-Andre Fleury calls. That ship sailed. This writer was the very last person on that hill, but suddenly there’s a lot of folks who reappeared. But it’s over. Done. That was four years ago and not worth more than these three sentences.

Former GM Jim Rutherford tried in vain to get Fleury back. Vegas wisely pulled back. That situation is over.

Though you may harken back to Fleury’s playoff meltdowns in 2012, 2013 and his stick-handling gaffes in 2014 for a frame of reference to a goalie finding his groove after disastrous playoff appearances.

If the Penguins stick with the Big 3–Crosby, Malkin, Letang–they must also look for an experienced goalie with playoff experience.

In the history of the Penguins, few playoff losses will sting like this one. The 2018 team was gassed. The 2011 team ran out of luck without Malkin or Crosby, despite leading 3-1. 1996 and 2001 Eastern Conference Finals against bland trapping teams also come to mind as crushing defeats.

But this time, they outplayed their nemesis. And yet, it’s the New York Islanders who are moving on. And we wait to see who else is moving on, too…

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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.

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Ricardo58
Ricardo58
3 months ago

IMO the Cup window is closed as of last season. I’m sure the Pens will retain 58 and 71. The idea in professional sports entertainment is to generate profit and this Pens team is built for the regular season and OT and not playoff hockey and OT. I expect Minor changes to the team with the “hope” of what could have been in this playoff to carry into next season. Essentially a repeat of this season occurring next season. Go Pens.

Scott Maloni
Scott Maloni
3 months ago
Reply to  Ricardo58

Sounds a lot like hoping Tomlin can win a meaningful playoff game.

Scott Maloni
Scott Maloni
3 months ago

You’re drinking the Kool-Aid if you think the Pens’ ills are limited to Jarry. They’re too small, too old at all the wrong positions and their coach insists o. playing a style of play that’s out of touch with winning modern playoff hockey games. I really like Sullivan. He’s a great coach. But his style of play is archaic. Something has to give.

concerned pensfan
concerned pensfan
3 months ago
Reply to  Scott Maloni

agree there; the pens looked old, small, and slow. Time to finally move Either Letang or Malkin even better…both.

David
David
3 months ago
Reply to  Scott Maloni

I agree that they are leaking oil in more places than goaltending. But they were doing pretty well plugging those leaks — but could not plug the huge leak in net. I.MO they weren’t going very far beyond this series anyways

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
3 months ago

Dan in my opinion you give this team to much credit. This team needs a total overhaul. I don’t think we can come back with Jarry as our number one. Defense we don’t really have a stay at home clear the crease DMAN. Ceci probably outplayed his contract so he will probably sign elsewhere. Petterson is way overpaid for what he brings. We have to many puck movers and not enough DMEN. I don’t care if Malkin and Letang stay or not but if you want anything back for them it is now or never. I say Rust or Guentzel… Read more »

Rich
Rich
3 months ago

Have to agree with you- you have 5 wings that are all similar- 2 of those have to go if you are changing the make-up of this team.

Daniel Serafin
Daniel Serafin
3 months ago

Dan, I’ve always like Sullivan, but does a series loss like this where he *may* have been outcoached raise any red flags to Hextall/Burkie? As a couch critic like everyone else, I didn’t see any adjustments all series long where we needed to improve things.

dweth2
dweth2
3 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Serafin

Why would Sullivan change anything when his team was dominating in all aspects of the game. We lost the goalie matchup.

Justin
Justin
3 months ago

We need somebody, anybody who will go to the net….Aside from Carter all our forwards are smallish speed guys. Biggest winger is Kapanen 6-1 195, great skill works in the regular season, in the playoffs where holding/interference is rarely called these guys get boxed out and beat up. Also a problem we have nobody on D to clear the crease and make someone pay for going there. Jarry got abused. Nobody got in Sorokins kitchen all series least of all tonight. Not saying we need to completely change everything but one on each side would be a start. Haven’t dove… Read more »

Charles Osborn
Charles Osborn
3 months ago

The Pens have been an all or nothing team throughout the triad era. The success they’ve had in winning the 3 cups was when they had a nice sprinkling of gritty players. Jeff Carter fits that bill but we needed a few more like him along with a healthy DeSmith. The big three often have a soft underbelly (even crosby) playing defense. Their offensive skill used to mitigate some of this but now with age and decline this deficiency is more of an issue. Jarry should be sent packing on no uncertain terms. No player on this team should be… Read more »

Zane Gearhart
Zane Gearhart
3 months ago

Who wants to bet on the odds of Mike Buckley being fired?
After his wonderful tutelage Matt Murray went from 2 cup champ to….
And Jarry went from all star to all time implosion… his performance has to mess with both his and his teams head. A vezina trophy during next season wouldn’t stop his mind from replaying this series during next years playoffs.

crazyhorse87
crazyhorse87
3 months ago

Like I said, ” Jarry needed to steal the two games and that I wouldn’t hold my breath”. I knew once the Islanders surpassed the Pens, it would be over. When he let in two goals on five shots, I felt Legacy should’ve been put in, every shot that went towards Jarry made me a heap of worry. These were deflating games, now those angry Penguin fans will need therapy.

Brian Parbus
Brian Parbus
3 months ago

I’ve been an Islander fan since their inception and as such , I am used to the dismal level of repect the Islanders command. Even in New York, the N Y Post gives the Rangers two full pages when they losr and disguise Islander coverage by printing the AP synopsis. Pathetic. You wrote an article about the blame game naming Guentzel, Rust and Zucker as underachieving. I guess it’s sacrilege to suggest Crosby belonged on that list. One goal, one assist in 6 games and a -3 in game 6. I won’t best up on Jarry. His performance speaks for… Read more »

Donny
Donny
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Parbus

Why the negative attitude/ Oh, right… You live on New York City’s taint

Michael Giobbe
Michael Giobbe
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Parbus

Lifelong Pens fan here but you are correct, the isles deserve all the credit here. After they lost Tavares I thought they would sink as a franchise but they made 2 great moves- hiring lamerello and trotz.

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Parbus

I agree with you on the Islanders deserving a ton of credit but your cheap shot at the end was uncalled for.

Tom Haley
Tom Haley
3 months ago

My 2 cents…
Penguin’s latest cups have been won with backup goaltenders pushing for the starting spot. Fluery/Murray – Murray/Jarry .
I’m not a fan of playoff hockey per se. Teams play by set rules all season then we play by a different set during the playoffs!
I believe the changes in the front office came for a reason..
we will see.

Rich
Rich
3 months ago

Dan, Believe there are options available- a back up like Lehner who is making decent coin- those type of options could materialize and help this team provided you find a team that would take Jarry-and there has to be 1 or 2. Thoughts?

David
David
3 months ago

Goaltending sunk the Pens, pure and simple. If Jarry plays simply average they win the series — despite their lack of offense and the Isles’ good goaltending.

David
David
3 months ago

When the Pens left Fleury exposed and protected MM I was one person who thought it was a bad move — to me, MM was already showing serious leaks along with periodic greatness — it was an opinion that seemed stupid to most since they had just won 2 straight cups, and MM was so much younger. But people forget Fleury was in net for the first two series of the second cup. My thought was that by the time Fleury was ready to retire, so would Crosby, Malkin, and Letang — and they would need to rebuild anyways. Hindsight… Read more »

David
David
3 months ago

I think we are now seeing the beginning of the end of the Crosby era. For me, I am grateful as a fan that we had the excitement of 3 Stanley Cups. No other team except Chicago won that many during the Crosby era. Everything has to end — just ask the 1970’s Steelers. As disappointing as this is, imagine being an Edmonton fan.

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