Connect with us


Penguins Room: ‘Our Roster is Our Roster,’ Pens Lose Badly to Oilers



Pittsburgh Penguins game, Mike Sullivan

Jason Zucker might have had the best idea about how the Pittsburgh Penguins should deal with the 7-2 beating they absorbed from Edmonton Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena.

“We’ve got to throw this one away as quick as possible,” he said.

After losing several winnable games lately, the Penguins were overwhelmed by the Oilers for much of the evening.

Kris Letang scored in the second minute of play and again in the next-to-last minute, but those goals bookended seven unanswered ones by Edmonton, which ran up a 44-24 advantage in shots and dominated play for vast stretches of the game.

“We’ve done some pretty good things the last few games,” Zucker said. “Obviously, not tonight.”

The NHL trade deadline is next Friday, and it seems likely that the Penguins will try to make at least one meaningful roster move by then.

But despite the Penguins having fallen out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Zucker suggested that the team has to maintain a positive mindset and that it can pull out of its skid with the personnel already on the payroll.

“We don’t have a choice now,” he said. “We can’t be down. We love our group here.”


Kris Letang

There were a lot of blank expressions in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ locker room after the game, as if the players could not really believe what they had just gone through.

And certainly, they didn’t seem prepared to offer a detailed assessment of all that had gone wrong for them in their fourth loss in a row and fifth in the past six games.

“It’s tough to explain right now,” Kris Letang said. “We’re under emotion right now. It’s tough to find the right answer on what went wrong. It was a tight game. … Just not good enough.

“We’re now in the middle of it. We have to bring more emotion and find a way, whatever it is. We’ll have to find a way to win.”

Mike Sullivan stresses the importance of defensive responsibility, and his players generally have put his words into practice for most of his time behind the bench here. That hasn’t been the case for much of this season, although rarely have they been dissected the way the Oilers did.

Letang suggested that players might be putting an undue emphasis on generating goals rather than focusing on playing well defensively,

“It’s the little details,” he said. “We should not look to win the game by a big score or try to outscore teams. We should just win by playing a simple game and defend hard. We have so much skill up front that we’ll find a way to score goals.”

Letang declined to identify the type of player if any, that he believes GM Ron Hextall should try to bring in by the deadline.

“I don’t really care about that,” he said. “I care about the guys who are in the room with me. If someone is down, we have to pick him up. We just have each other, so we have to push each other to be better.”

Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby offered a pretty simple answer to a question about what it will take for the Pittsburgh Penguins to begin reviving their season.

“Just a win,” he said. “Find a way to win a hockey game.”

That would be an important first step, of course, and Crosby made it clear that their recent spate of adversity aside, he believes there’s no reason for the Penguins to focus on anything other than getting out of the rut into which they have fallen.

“There’s lots of season left, and we’re fighting for a playoff spot,” he said. “Ideally, we’d be in a better position, but we still have a chance to make the playoffs. It’s not easy to make the playoffs. I think we all realize that, but there’s lots of hockey left.”

True enough, but it can’t be the kind of hockey they played for most of the Edmonton game.

“Mistakes, especially against a team as dangerous as that, you’re going to pay for them,” he said, “And we did.”

Mike Sullivan

*From Dan Kingerski:

Words that were debated and parsed. Coach Mike Sullivan defended his group even if the words don’t necessarily read like it.

“Well, our roster is our roster. So, we have what we have, and we’re trying to put the best combinations on the ice that we think of as the best chance to win,” Sullivan said. “That’s the criteria that I’ve always utilized for our coaching staff.”

While it appeared Sullivan meant to indicate something akin to Donald Rumsfield’s famous line, “you go to war with the army you have, not the army you want,” others felt differently.

Decide for yourself how Sullivan meant those words.