Penguins getting a new dress code: Long pants for everyone
The Penguins were 18 seconds away from not earning any points against the Islanders after a long layoff and turned it into two. Evgeni Malkin’s one-timer tied the game and Sidney Crosby’s shootout goal locked in the bonus point. Pittsburgh is competing with a group of teams, including the Islanders, for the fourth place spot right now. Most of the teams are hovering right at the .500 points percentage mark. These were an important two points to steal.
While the later part of the game got interesting with Mat Barzal’s highlight goal and Malkin’s tying goal in the waning seconds I can’t say a lot of the game was interesting. Outside of Barzal there isn’t much to write home about as far as entertainment value with the Islanders, but the Penguins aren’t exactly bringing it like they used to either. More times than not this year I find myself looking at my phone during the game. This isn’t an active choice it is a subconscious one. The product is bland. It doesn’t mean the team can’t compete and register victories it just means I find them boring. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are still must watch shifts because at any moment they can still do something awesome, but everything else is low end with the odds of seeing something cool or fun very low. This is an entertainment product first and foremost. I don’t need a Stanley Cup to be entertained. All of the low event defense first depth players are a chore to watch most nights.
Will the new regime fix this? Probably not!
This sucks and was one of the obvious negatives with Burke being hired. He is a dinosaur in how he perceives the game. This is obviously a problem with constructing a team to win, but will also do nothing to my criticisms above. Who still wants to watch that crap? Because despite what Burke is saying the recent Cup winners had lots of talent. The idea TAMPA BAY wasn’t a fast skilled base team is completely ludicrous.
Even if you wanted to say Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow types pushed TB over the top look at the cost of acquisition and then look at what the Penguins have to offer teams. Maybe they can get lucky and get a player like Patrick Maroon to sign a dirt cheap deal, but we haven’t really seen a history of that lately with the Penguins.
Sure, the Blues might lean towards what Burke said, but they still had a ton of skill. The Washington Capitals had loads of talent. The talent drove their success. The Penguins obviously went back to back. Guess who won it before them? Chicago, you know, the team known for being bruising and definitely not fast or skilled. So while Brian Burke understands the importance of super star players, he still lacks a modern understanding of what to surround those players with. His Toronto sample wasn’t encouraging and the Flames have been stuck for a while. Remember the Deryk Engelland "that's per year"? Who do you think gave him that deal?
Lastly, hasn’t Jim Rutherford been trying to do exactly what Burke is talking about since 2017? Rutherford voluntarily broke up the winning formula to chase the grit garbage. The results speak for themselves.
Don’t look now but Evgeni Malkin is on a four game point streak. He had the big goal to tie the game last night and was even making defensive plays in the 3v3 session. The 3v3 OT is a little bit gimmicky, but you can’t hide your conditioning. Malkin was going up and down the ice successfully so if there were concerns about his ability to move this was encouraging. Also, shoot more Geno.
Weird when you put the puck in his wheelhouse what can happen.
Sidney Crosby did something he normally doesn’t do. He deked on a shootout attempt. I believe it is the second time he has done it this year. I love it. What makes it even better is he used his go to shooting move as a decoy. Watch how Crosby keeps the puck in a shooting position the entire time of his attempt. This is how you do it. Keep the goalie guessing the entire time and freeze him. This was a wonderful job by Sid
Apologies to Pierre-Olivier Joseph who has been great since jumping to the NHL, but Mat Barzal had his way with him last night. Earlier in the game Barzal almost undressed Joseph on a 1v1 attempt, but didn’t quite get through. The second time Joseph wasn’t as fortunate
There’s no shame in getting beat like that by a player like that. This is why we watch the sport. To see plays like the one Barzal made. Good stuff.
The Penguins have a couple days off before their Valentine’s date with the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
Thanks for reading!