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Deserve got nothin' to do with it

August 2, 2020, 11:02 AM ET [79 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
If you forgot how playoff hockey worked last night’s game was a great reminder. You can play a good game and still lose in the blink of a second in overtime. Deserve got nothin’ to do with it.

This is the problem with a five game series for the Penguins. It is now a bigger problem after dropping the first game 3-2 after Jeff Petry’s great curl and drag play/shot in overtime.

There was a lot more good than bad on the Penguins side of things and I do think they get a win most nights. Heading into overtime the Penguins were a 68.12 xGF% team in the game. Montreal’s entire selling point coming into the series was they were the second best in the league in that area. The Penguins dominated the game. I saw no evidence why they can’t continue to drive play and create chances.

While the Penguins were better overall they do have the worst player in the series and that player had a great view of Montreal’s first and third goals.

It is comical how bad he is. He straight up whiffs on his check with horrible stick and body position, collides into his own player scrambling back, screens Murray, and ultimately checks the goal scorer and puck into the net. Classic Jack.

Later Johnson took a penalty in overtime to give Jonathan Drouin a penalty shot. Luckily, Drouin is apparently not as good as Sheary at taking them and dumped the puck into the corner instead of missing the net wide by a little bit.

The game winning goal was, well…

Justin Schultz isn’t off the hook on this one, either. What an embarrassing way to lose an NHL playoff game. These are mistakes you see in a mite game because the players don’t actually know the positions or where to be. The bottom pairing is a liability in the best of times and catastrophic in the worst of times.

dErRrR JaCk jOhNsOn iSn’t tHe oNlY ReAsOn tHeY LoSt dErRrRr

Yeah, the power play sucked and Conor Sheary missed a penalty shot. I like the odds of the power play scoring and Conor Sheary cashing in on a scoring chance a lot better than Jack Johnson “finding his game” Johnson remains one of the biggest self-owns in the sport.

The power play sucks because the coaches continue to slot players in spots that don’t maximize their ability. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin keep finding themselves in the Phil Kessel spot. It can’t continue. It is coaching malpractice. Put Letang or Schultz there and let Malkin run the power play from up top if you really have to. Put Rust on the left half wall. Put both Schultz and Letang out there so Malkin can play the right circle. There are a number of options the team can use instead of “let’s take our best players and put them on the strong side, not in a position to shoot, and eliminate their most dangerous traits”. The coaching staff has shown no ability to move on from Phil Kessel running the power play. They have had the entire year and still haven’t figured it out. A right-handed player for the left half wall is a glaring hole for this team and needs to be addressed in the present with a better tactical approach and needs to be addressed with a roster move in the long term. It is unacceptable to watch that much talent on the ice flounder. If the complaint is the Penguins look for too many passing plays instead of shooting then ask yourself why they put their best goal scorers in a position where they can’t readily shoot and can only look for the pretty passes that go east to west and west to east.

Conor Sheary missed the net on a penalty shot. Conor Sheary had some other chances to score and didn’t. Conor Sheary is Conor Sheary. We know the player quite well. He is going to be able to help create scoring chances, he is able to get open, his speed creates good things, he is not a true top line player, and doesn’t have natural finishing ability. It doesn’t mean he is a scrub and should be in the express lane for a demotion. Yeah, Conor Sheary scoring on the penalty shot likely means a Penguins victory, but he is taking heat for making a play with his speed to earn that opportunity in the first place. It’s almost as if he would be more rewarded in the public discourse if he hadn’t earned the penalty shot with his speed at all. Patric Hornqvist probably would have dumped it in between the red and blue line on the same sequence. What does a Patric Hornqvist penalty shot even look like if he did earn one? Is hitting the goalie in the crest better than barely missing the post on a dialed in Carey Price. So yeah, Sheary has warts, but what else do you want to do with the lines? Patric Hornqvist would be there already if he was the obvious best option. He isn’t there and hasn’t been with Crosby for most of the past two years. He’s played more with Jared McCann, Evgeni Malkin, and Nick Bjugstad (yes Nick Bjugstad) than he has with Crosby since 2018-19 so read into that what you will.

Anybody else on the third line deserve a promotion because they were TERRIBLE. If Based on TOI the third line was actually the fourth line last night. It was ugly

I said I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t have high expectations for Marleau-McCann-Hornqvist, but I certainly didn’t expect xGF% of 12. Yeesh.

Matt Murray was fine. Fine isn’t always good enough for a victory, though. The first and third goals aren’t the kind of goals I look towards the goalie to place blame. The second one? Yeah, I hate that going in. The guy on the other end makes that stop last night. Murray was .914 on the night which is the definition of average. I think average can be enough. Even with Price playing .951 the Penguins had great opportunities to win the game. It certainly wasn’t akin to when Tuukka Rask and the Boston Bruins snuffed the life out of Pittsburgh in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals.

Obviously, the Penguins need to win Game 2. Winning three playoff games in a row isn’t easy. It is why most people picking this series didn’t have either team winning in a sweep. Sand runs out of the hour glass really quick in these short series. The Penguins still have a great look at it. They played really good and nothing suggests they can’t continue to do the same things that made them successful last night in the next game. Even then it might not matter because it is playoff hockey and deserve got nothing to do with it, unless of course you willingly keep playing the worst player in the series and tactically self-own your own power play.

Thanks for reading!
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