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‘We Are Not Helping Each Other,’ Malkin Confronts Penguins Failures

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Pittsburgh penguins Evgeni Malkin

It wasn’t a Sunday morning fire and brimstone sermon. When Pittsburgh Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin spoke on after the Penguins sixth straight loss on Saturday night, his tone was subdued.

The Penguins and Malkin are searching for answers. They’ve turned in a few clunkers over the past six games and been shutout by Toronto and San Jose. They have outplayed Washington and Los Angeles, and lost those games, too.

After the Penguins lost to Washington, which was their third straight loss, General Manager Jim Rutherford remarked, “If we keep playing like that, we’ll be fine.”

The Penguins haven’t been fine. Things are now spiraling. Captain Sidney Crosby spoke in soft tones with a level of bewilderment in his voice.

“There are always key times in the hockey game, whether on the power play or penalty kill, just big plays we have to come up with,” Crosby said. “That’s usually the difference between winning and losing, and we haven’t done enough of that.”

But it was Malkin who spoke in blunt terms about the Penguins problems. After 14 NHL seasons, Malkin doesn’t bother pulling his punches. When things are bad, or things need to change, Malkin doesn’t bother putting a spin on the information.

“We must try to understand. It’s not easy to win. It doesn’t matter who we play,” Malkin said, perhaps implying the Penguins have taken some teams for granted. “We look at each other. We don’t help each other. We just look at each other.”

“The forwards look at the D and wait for the puck. And the same for D who look to the forwards and wait for the puck. It’s not our game.”

Not only have the Pittsburgh Penguins lost six straight games, which is by far their biggest skid of the season, but the Penguins are also suddenly unable to score goals. They’ve been outscored 24-8 in the last six games.

Even without Sidney Crosby and others in the lineup, the Penguins managed to be one of the highest-scoring teams in the NHL. And it seems the hockey gods are course-correcting all at once. The Penguins clanged three posts on Saturday night, and Crosby missed an open net.

“We haven’t played great over the last seven games, but we have time. There are (18) games left,” Malkin continued. “It’s a good time to fix our problems.”

The Penguins lost all four on the road trip after they flatlined in a pair of ugly losses, one in Toronto (5-0), then at home against the Buffalo Sabres (5-2). Malkin expressed hope that a change in venue will help change their fortunes.

Hope, right?

“When we get back home, we need to forget this road trip. Get back home, play in our building and try to score one or two goals by shooting the puck more and go to the net,” Malkin said. “We tried to play easy to make an extra pass, but we need to change a little bit.”

The Penguins were outshot by San Jose on Saturday night 32-30, despite San Jose coasting in the final 10 minutes with a large lead. In fact, it looked like the Penguins were coasting in the third period, too.

More than Crosby’s voice trailed off as he spoke. Sullivan’s did, too. The Pittsburgh Penguins season, which was recently full of promise, is now suddenly on the brink. They’re being chased by the New York Islanders, who trail the Penguins by only two points, for third place in the Metro. The Penguins margin of being in the playoffs and out is now just five points over the Carolina Hurricanes, who much improved their roster at the NHL trade deadline.

“We need to play simple. We need to help each other and block shots. Now, the playoffs start for us. Every game is going to be huge for us,” Malkin concluded.

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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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Katz
Katz
1 year ago

Analytics such as Corsi statistics which Sullivan uses more than he would admit , offers performance levels for certain players which is a false reality. Kinda like using a dating service offering a date describing a tall buxom blonde w measurements 36 24-36 . When you meet this beauty you discover a third eye in the middle of her forehead! Observers not deluded knew Simon did not belong on 1st line and PP and if after the 2nd round loss to Washington and the sweep by the Islanders ( zero PP’s in series) I would have hoped Sullivan would have… Read more »

King Penguin
King Penguin
1 year ago

These are the 2010s Blackhawks all over again. Just insert Crosby for Toews, Malkin for Kane, Letang for Keith, Hornqvist for Shaw, Dumolin, for Seabrook, Murray for Crawford, Sullivan for Quenneville . . .

E.J.
E.J.
1 year ago

I would take what Malkin said seriously if he wasn’t one of the biggest offenders. Hard to lead when you’re one of the main problems. Dude was invisible except for the obligatory penalties.

Earl Thomas Wadhams
Earl Thomas Wadhams
1 year ago

The Pens have the worst schedule again, they are being buried into the ice again. Mental errors, injury galore, they are a tired team, especially when Crosby can miss an open net. When Pittsburgh and Chicago had the most double headers, Chicago didn’t make the playoffs and the Pens were knocked out in the fist round. You also have to look and see if a double header meets another double header on a team that has so many double headers. The Pens had a long stretch before a long break to another long stretch, this is why there are so… Read more »

Da Binker
Da Binker
1 year ago

Zero divison titles in six years, one playoff series victory in the last three. It’s time to concede that Crosby, Malkin and Letang are fatally flawed and highly overrated.

Miller Time
Miller Time
1 year ago

Really like what the Flyers have done in the last year. GM Fletcher correctly assessed and addressed several problems, and Vigneault is an underrated coach. Fully expect them and the Rangers (loads of young talent) to dominate the Metro for the rest of the decade.

Chester The Jester
Chester The Jester
1 year ago

If I had been the Pens owner, Guerin would have replaced GMJR after the 2017-18 season, GMJR would have moved to an advisory role and Kessel would have been traded.

But I watched Three Amigos six times, so what the hell do I know?

B.J.
B.J.
1 year ago

How many more times do we have to hear the Pens are tired?

I’m sick and tired of their sick and tired. If they can’t show up three or four times a week for a seven-figures job, then it’s time to find somebody who can.

Really, this is not NBA. Or is it?

Tony G.
Tony G.
1 year ago

You know what’s not helping, Geno? Your sugar-coated game. Your utter lack of focus. Your lazy give-aways. Your dumb-butt penalties. Your $9.5-million salary . . .

Kurt Marasco
Kurt Marasco
1 year ago

Trading away and sitting out hungry young players who were making a noticable difference in your teams performance is a bit short sighted.

The Pens are tired because they keep trading away their youth. I could understand this if they traded for a truly impact player, but their trades seem to be doing nothing but replacing decent players that already fit into the system with about the same level players that don’t.

Earl Thomas Wadhams
Earl Thomas Wadhams
1 year ago

A person can only take so much pounding in 82 games, then move on to more vigorous games in the play-offs, season after season. They are only human, you also have to put into perspective the stresses of always winning, game after game, play-off after play-off, season after season. People are different, level of tolerance are different, your salary isn’t going to change that. The Pens take a lot of poundings per games, they block a lot of shots and they age like everybody else and their tolerance diminishes with age. The Pens use speed, so their size are adequately… Read more »

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