The Penguins did not get the result they were looking for last night. The Penguins have the better roster and were also better rested for the contest, yet it was Philadelphia who left with the victory.
It’s not ideal, but the Buffalo Sabres are going to win hockey games this year and the Chicago Blackhawks are going to lose some as well.
Overreacting is pointless. Flyers did a nice job. Tip your hat to them and move on.
For those expecting every puzzle piece to fit perfectly right away in Mike Johnston’s new system that just isn’t going to happen.
Some thoughts from the game:
One of the things I always look forward to when the Penguins play is watching their #1 power play unit go to work. Unfortunately, last night they were never really given the opportunity. The timing of their early power plays coincided with the end of Crosby’s shifts. As a result Steve Downie, Pascal Dupuis, and Brandon Sutter all played a minute more of power play time than Crosby last night. Not ideal, but also not the coach’s fault.
The second unit was basically Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff passing back and forth with the forwards just kind of there waiting for one of them to shoot it.
This also highlights why you can’t have two equal power play groups because the first group out there is always going to take the lion’s share of the time, regardless of who it is.
A lot of people are going to question Mike Johnston and his approach to the Flyers trap last night. The fact of the matter is that the Penguins were too tired to generate the necessary speed to break it. They only have three lines right now. The trap is designed to make opposing players make good plays in small spaces or to dump it in. The good teams will make those plays, the bad teams will try and play ping pong with back and forth dump and chase matches.
Marcel Goc played under 10 minutes last night. Only 7 minutes at even strength. He’s a better asset than that. For now Johnston is burying him in the defensive zone (team low) while giving him crummy linemates. Not sure what the realistic expectations are for a player in that boat.
Craig Adams and Zach Sill only saw 6 minutes of even strength ice time.
That is Randy Carylylesque. You can’t expect to play and execute the Mike Johnston system with unskilled players and only 3 lines. The good news is that eventually this problem will be remedied. Beau Bennett will come back and another forward will join the team via trade. This should eliminate the Craig Adams and Zach Sill days on the active roster.
Those two red circles in the bottom right corner are Zach Sill and Craig Adams. Literally the only two guys Mike Johnston is protecting to this point. Mike Johnston is actually getting the Crosby line out there against solid matchups, but he is forced to starting them in the defensive zone all the time. Can’t waste those valuable zone starts on bad players.
Craig Adams had a CF% of 0% last night. That is really hard to do, congrats?
Nick Spaling scored his first goal as a Penguin and also had a nice give and go play with Marcel Goc for the third goal (go figure a Goc sighting when he wasn’t with Adams and Sill). You’ll know the Penguins roster is ready for a legit Cup run when Spaling is slotted on the fourth line. That will make for four playable lines. And yes, that is still the optimal spot for Spaling. He is capable of doing positive things and does. Stanley Cup champion teams have fourth liners who do just that. For now he can eat up some third line minutes.
Simon Despres takes too many minor penalties. I don’t know if he is going overboard physically to try and prove his worth but he can’t continue to take that many minor penalties. He also did not play well last night. That’s fine, it happens to a lot of young D men. It happens to Rob Scuderi too. I’m OK with the Penguins sitting Despres down against Detroit if Robert Bortuzzo is ready, but that same standard better apply to a guy like Scuderi as well. What’s fair is fair, no exceptions.
Marc-Andre Fleury did not wear his gold pads last night, he also did not play particularly well. His strength is athleticism and he successfully tracked the pass across on the third goal the entire way, but did not make that save. Those are the plays you supposedly pay the premium for. He also needs to stop playing the puck, it is embarrassing.
I think we may be nearing the end of Brandon Sutter centering Evgeni Malkin and that is fine. It served its purpose for what it needed to do. It’s pretty clear that Geno will need some help if the Penguins want a legitimate return on his investment. It isn’t realistic to expect him to perform magic on a nightly basis playing with two third line players. You could see Mike Johnston tinkering with his lines towards the end of the game last night. There will not be a gameday skate today in Detroit so we won’t officially know if he intends to switch things up until later today.
Chris Kunitz tried a little too hard to draw a penalty last night and got zapped for a diving call. It was the right call and I hope it is made consistently around the league.
Until the Penguins get Beau Bennett back I wouldn’t really overreact to anything. This is not the Penguins real team. Take the good with the bad.
The jerseys looked great, even in defeat.
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