PITTSBURGH– The Penguins locker room was eerily sullen and quiet. It was perhaps more somber than at any point in the past 12 months. The Penguins were outplayed outworked and outscored in a 5-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“We were humbled,” said Mike Sullivan. Look for a Penguins locker room feature for PHN Extra later. LOT of interesting nuggets. Matt Cullen, Sidney Crosby and Mike Sullivan in varying degrees sounded the alarm.
Toronto head coach Mike Babcock spanked his team after their 3-0 loss to the Penguins on Oct. 18. Toronto had something to prove and kept the Penguins to the perimeter and utilized the rush to outskate the Penguins. They also won most puck battles and had a higher compete level.
“If we’re not invested, we look ordinary. And that was the case tonight,” said Sullivan.
The Penguins home play has inexplicably been poor and been well below their skill level. The Penguins failed to generate offense beyond the Hagelin-Malkin-Kessel line, as the Maple Leafs generally dominated the puck. After 40 minutes, Toronto outshot the Penguins 30-18.
The Penguins outshot Toronto 11-1 in the third period but still couldn’t get one past Frederik Andersen before Toronto defenseman Mike Rielly scored a power-play goal to make it 4-0.
Grading on the curve, the line had their lunch money taken and their girlfriend went to the sock hop with someone else. John Tavares and Mitchell Marner were better. The Crosby line was out-chanced at 5v5, 7-2 through two periods and 10-5 overall.
Crosby was a team worst -3.
That should tell you all you need to know about the game.
Pens PP: D
The unit was 0-5 and generated precious few shots on goal. Four total shots in over eight minutes of the man advantage. They certainly did not generate good chances. In fact, Toronto had better chances while shorthanded than did the Penguins power play.
The Penguins just didn’t have any spark. Toronto took away the lanes, and the Penguins didn’t get second chances or good first chances.
The Crosby line out-chanced. Power play in the garbage. That should tell you all need to know about the game.
Penguins Bottom Six: F. F-. Holy F-
The first ever Holy F- grade in PHN history. The bottom six was so bad Rodney Dangerfield would do jokes about it. It was so bad, the kids who play during intermission looked more cohesive. It was so bad, Daniel Sprong played a disjointed game and was still one of the best of the bunch.
It was so ugly its parents had to tie a porkchop around its neck so the dogs would play with it. It was so ugly, its father carried around the picture which came with the wallet. It was so ugly, its mother fed it with a slingshot. When it played in the sandbox, the cat tried to bury it. It was ugly.
Before the third period rally, Riley Sheahan and Bryan Rust had Corsi percentages around 25 percent. Hornqvist was 30 percent. Matt Cullen was at 37 percent. All were out-chanced by nearly a 3-1 margin before the third period surge.
Worse than being out-chanced was the disorganization. Breakouts were fumbled. Rushes were non-existent. Nor was any cycle game. The Penguins bottom-six forwards flat stunk.
They didn’t score but they were responsible for most (perhaps all?) of the Penguins scoring chances. The big albatross was Kessel’s FIVE giveaways Yes, five and it could have been more.
The eye test showed the line was even, and so did the stat sheet. Malkin and company generated about five scoring chances and yielded five.
Matt Murray: A
It isn’t often a goaltender gives up five and is called a hero. Consider Murray the Penguins best player, Saturday.
Murray was strong. He kept the Penguins in the game, even as the skaters were unable to keep pace. 39-year-old Patrick Marleau should not beat any Penguins to the net, but that’s precisely what happened on the second goal of the game. Malkin and Olli Maatta were chasing him as he deked to the backhand then plowed over Murray for the goal.