A loss to the Coyotes with about $21.75 million worth of players sitting in the press box due to injury isn’t going to derail the Penguins’ season.
But what happened after the game cannot be ignored. The Penguins’ “veterans” voiced some major concerns in a closed-door meeting and in the media, even though the Penguins’ veterans’ play is mostly to blame for the Penguins subpar results.
So things are a bit rocky for the first time in a while. And that’s either going to end up being a saving grace, or maybe it is at a terrible time with just 10 games left to play.
It seems a little extreme to get worked up over a loss like this. The Penguins know they aren’t going to catch the Bruins (107 points), and they know no one in the Metro is going to catch them. In fact, the Penguins’ chances of getting the number-2 overall seed and winning the Metro is 99%.
If they are this worked up over a loss to the Coyotes, what’s going to happen over the next three games?
- Kings on Thursday
- Blue Jackets on Friday
- Blackhawks on Sunday
Back to this game for a second, though. The Penguins were undone, again, by some really bad penalties. James Neal took a horrible penalty late, Jussi Jokinen took the penalty that led to the Coyotes GWG, and even Crosby took a bad penalty. They have lived and died with special teams all season, and in this game it got them. The Coyotes scored one official power-play goal and scored another just as Jokinen’s penalty expired. On the bright side, Taylor Pyatt scored a goal.
Yotes had no Mike Ribeiro or Mike Smith. There were some big hits early. Despres put his shoulder into some dude’s jaw, while Bissonnette almost sent Kunitz’s head into the Lexus Club.
Megna-Adams-Glass had some unreal shift, which helped the Pens to keep the puck in the Coyotes’ zone for like 10 minutes. It culminated with Neal getting a great look, but it looked like he hit the post or Greiss barely got a piece of it.
The puck went the other way. Niskanen/Maatta had no answer for the Coyotes’ forecheck. David Moss streaks in and buries one. 1-0. Then the guy almost scored from the same place on his next shift.
Taylor Pyatt had his best period as a Penguin. He drew a penalty and gave the Pens a PP. It looked like Jokinen hit the post, and play continued. After a couple minutes, Crosby finally got the puck and iced the shit out of it so they could go review the Jokinen shot. Turns out it was a goal.
1-1. That goal celebration was more awkward than the first handjob you were a part of. Jokinen broke a long dry spell with that.
Martin Erat got behind Maatta on a breakaway, but then he forgot to make a move on MAF. Another slow start to the game for Maatta, but he settled in as usual.
Niskanen went to the box for something. Scuderi and Orpik were on the PK, so shit was about to go down. Orpik was hanging out like he was in the hallway at Bayside High. Antoine Vermette was like, well, okay, and poked home a loose puck.
Late in the period, Scuderi slapped one from the point that hit Pyatt’s stick on the way in. 2-2.
HIDDEN STAT: Brian Gibbons set Penguins franchise record for most falls in a period.
Pens came out and had their best chance of the game up to that point. Kunitz fed Stempniak with a backhand pass, but it just didn’t connect.
One thing that went well
Bissonnette gave MAF a shoulder to the mask for pretty much no reason. What a waste of time and space.
Craig Adams worked hard and had an empty net with the puck on his backhand…but he shot it up onto Mount Washington.
Jokinen took a slashing penalty. Killed, barely. Boedker swooped in late. Orpik was probably doing something else. What a shot. 3-2.
This happened early in the third for some reason…
Felt like we were watching an episode of “Planet Earth.”
So, the Pens were down a goal, and it was time to get serious. Instead Crosby was going to the box 2 minutes in. Give props to the PK unit in the third period. The Pens lost 4 minutes of comeback time during the meaty part of the third period, and the PK maintained the status quo.
How many times did the Coyotes get a one-timer look from the slot in this game? Had to have been at least 5 chances. We’re trying to remember if any other team has been able to do that against the Pens this season.
And Fleury is having issues with handling the puck again. Or maybe he’s just been forced to handle it more recently. Or, gasp, Dave Tippett made it a focal point of his strategy in this game.
Glass got away with leaving his feet on a hit on Michalek. Dodged a bullet there. But the penalty came anyway when Bortuzzo went off for a hook. Pens killed that, too.
How good was the Coyotes’ D in the third period? They slowly turned out the lights. But the Pens were squeaking some chances in there. James Neal had one of their best in the third with about 7 minutes left, but Greiss shrugged it off.
Then Greiss was in the firing line. He made a big save on Neal, then Crosby airmailed one.
Greiss’ D-men made it look easy for him all through the Pens’ late surge.
Then Neal took his penalty.
- Solid game from Michalek.
- Gibbons on the PK reminds us of using Konstantin Koltsov on the PK on NHL 2003. You would just do a flip dump, switch to Koltsov, zoom through the D with your speed, pick up the puck, and score unlimited goals on breakaways. Fata was good for that, too.