Recap 02: Saturday Night Fright

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The Penguins entered the game after an offense filled affair that brought down the defending champs. The Canadiens entered the game happy that they weren’t relegated over the offseason. We mentioned in the gameday that how rosters look head-to-head on paper rarely plays out the way you’d expect on the ice. Sometimes there are odd bounces. Sometimes there are good breaks. Sometimes there is no hustle. Sometimes there are mistakes. This game had all of it, and none in a good way.

The Pens used the same lineup as last game. I’m not posting it here, just close your eyes and recall.

The game started off with a little jump from both teams before the Pens were quickly given a powerplay opportunity less than two minutes in. A prime chance to start dropping the hammer was gone after two unsuccessful minutes. The game evened out after that with neither team looking like they wanted to score first. Dominik Simon took a delay of game penalty but the revamped Penguins penalty kill was able to get the job done. After I woke up from my nap there was 7 minutes left in the period and Montreal had scored.

How does a team with possession of the puck in their own zone end up giving up a two on one? That is a question easily answered in this scenario, a tired Evgeni Malkin once again sending the puck to the middle of the ice at the end of a shift. When Geno has the puck here are his options knowing he is heading to the bench, the red shows the open lane to put the puck off the boards and deep, the blue shows the box he aims for:

Geno’s pass is tipped into the air which gives Johnson a tougher task that he failed at. Still, from the image above Johnson turning it over still looks like the Pens have even numbers back.

The entire line continued with the change despite a struggling teammate. The only player still in position is Olli Maatta who is not seen just off the left of the image. Matt Murray was in position to make the initial save but the puck somehow went off of Maatta’s stick, into his skates and put on a saucer for Gallagher. A mental mistake and a bad bounce, it’s 1-0 Habs.

The good news for the Pens was this was Montreal right? They could get that one back without a problem, after all it isn’t like Niemi was in net.

Jack Johnson goes for a long ice pass, it’s deflected up towards the Penguins line and turned over. The following frame looks like this with the puck carrier circled in red:

Now keep this relatively perfect defensive positioning in mind, this is the goal that was scored not even two seconds after the pass

Two defenders at the blueline and a mini breakaway happens. This cannot happen as Olli Maatta gets smoked like a Finnish Ham.

From the defensive positioning above to the frame below in 0.2 seconds… yikes

Matt Murray took the blame for this goal (and all of the others, naturally) but that’s a bit crazy…

Not sure how much more of the net the guy can take up, if the people blaming Murray for this one attempted this save they would witness their balls roll out of their ripped sack.

Fortunately for the Penguins the Canadiens would take it easy on them and the period would end 2-0.

The Pens put up 5 shots in the first period against the Caps, 7 against the Habs, and have now been outscored 5-2 in the first frame. If the teams defense is going to continue to be suspect they can’t afford getting behind early.

It’s okay though, Mike Sullivan always knows what to say and the boys will come out of intermission ready to go. Three minutes in a puck is sent in behind Murray, Dumoulin goes back to get it and flat out gets out hustled by a hungrier Canadiens team. Chaos ensues and the Habs take a 3-0 lead

Here is a full gif of the play:


After the first shot you can see Brian Dumoulin look up and point to Phil Kessel as if to say “What the fuck bro why is this guy open?”

The entire Penguins team seems to be having problems adjusting to the new boards at The Paint Can, but the other team plays on the same boards so this isn’t an excuse. Murray makes the first save in a shitty situation, the chances of saving a one touch tip shot where the offensive player just makes contact on the puck is a prayer. This pains me to say because after the game I was completely ready to drag Matt Murray for his performance, the most disappointing thing I’ve found after reviewing the footage for the millionth time is the Penguins problems are not as simple as bad goaltending.

Down 3-0 there is still that glimmer of hope with this hockey team. The next 10 minutes the Penguins looked to finally get going but nothing was falling. A few posts were rang. A few pucks barely missed going in. They just needed a bounce. Montreal would take a penalty at the 7 minute mark, the Penguins puck luck would continue when Crosby took an open net chance and somehow hit a guys butthole. The Habs would take another penalty at the 13 minute mark. The Penguins dumb play would continue when a defender would pinch and Phil Kessel would be the lone defender on a two on one

A two on one while your team has a man advantage is an issue. Take a wild guess on how the play starts…

Ohhh look, a Penguins defender (Letang, circled) is pinching and the forward (Malkin) didn’t drop back to cover the vacated point. Four goals scored, two themes. Pinching D that goes without being covered or defensive pairings getting out-hustled.

Murray was a tad slow getting across his crease on this one so I will give him some fault, however this puck was actually about an inch off the ice when it was whacked with a swinging stick from Armia who was just trying for contact and not aiming.

Much like the 3rd goal there was no telling where this puck would go, with that being said a more aggressive push would’ve covered where the puck went in however it could’ve exposed further holes had the save been made.

Three minutes later the Penguins finally got on the board when the 4th line grinded one out

RILEY SHEAHAN Assisted by LETANG (2) & SPRONG (2) @ 17:10

Daniel Sprong continues his nonimpressive play while being a point-per-game player. With the point Kris Letang passes Paul Coffey for the all-time points by a Penguins defender record. The Pens honored Letang with the following video

Paul Coffey had 440 points in 331 games, last night was Letangs 684th but who is counting, congratulations Letang. Also, nice goal Sheahan.

The Penguins went into the locker room after the 2nd with 19 shots on goal. They would finish the game with 22. 3 fucking shots when trailing by 3. THREE FUCKING SHOTS.

Charles Hudon scored at the midpoint of the period to give the Habs a 5-1 lead, I’m not sure if anyone was left in the arena to see it.



Mike Sullivan summed it up perfectly

Precisely this.

Matt Murray can be blamed for the 5th goal, a wrap around he should’ve had. He can be blamed for the 4th goal. The old adage is “we need our goalie to make a save” isn’t one you can turn to when what you’re truly asking is “we need our goalie to bail us out of multiple odd-man rushes per game.” The Penguins were not good as a whole last night, you can put any goalie in the league in that crease and the Pens are losing that game 9 times out of 10.

  •  If you don’t love the fact that Sullivan saw the mistakes the second line was making and reduced their ice time then I got nothing for you. Malkin finished with 15:46 and Kessel with 14:41. The first line for comparison averaged 18, Brassard had 16:02, and even the 4th line had 11 minutes each. Sullivan doing this shows the team that he doesn’t care what the name on the back says.
  •  Guentzel and Dumoulin were the only players to escape the game EVEN in +/-
  •  Only 4 forwards recorded more than one shot. That is ridiculous. Hornqvist topped all Penguins with a whopping 3.
  •  Daniel Sprong is yet to record a shot on goal this season.
  •  The penalty kill is 5/5 this year, so there is that
  •  It’s the second game with 80 to go, last year the recap of the second game of the year we were talking about how the Blackhawks just put up 10 on the Pens. Vegas and MAF come in to town Wednesday.

Fixing a Hole

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