Things are not going well for the Penguins right now. They’ve lost five games in a row, are seventh in their division, and are 21st overall in the league. Quite a departure from how things started. Last night’s game was always going to be a tough contest. The Bruins are really good. To earn a 5-2 lead, carry a two-goal lead into the third period, give up a goal in the last minute, and then lose in overtime despite having a full power play, well that stinks. They should have been able to close this one out.
It isn’t good when the top six scores four out of the five goals and the team is unable to secure two points. The team desperately needs the top six to carry things. The good news is that they are! Pittsburgh’s top six has played really well this year. The issue is the bottoms six. They are pretty bad and the ones who haven’t come close to making an impact are the ones who carry the higher cap hits. It makes things really tough. Just take a look at the xGF% numbers through ten games. There is a very clear and decisive drop off
The team will go as the top six goes. If some of them are injured, well, it isn’t going to go great as we saw on the western road trip. When they’re in the games they will produce like they did last night. It’s what makes last night so frustrating. The players who need to lead the way, did. When Josh Archibald is leading the way in your bottom six you probably aren’t to be taken seriously.
Then there are choices being made by Mike Sullivan which are actively hurting the team. Brian Dumoulin continues to be given the same identical role game after game even though there is no evidence that he can perform at the level of what his role dictates. He’s been terrible. I don’t think it is hyperbolic to say he is dipping his toes into the 2013-15 Rob Scuderi waters.
We are talking about a player who has been gifted some of the best quality of teammate in the entire league and what is there really to show for it? He isn’t a regular contributor of offense. He’s a step slow so the defending aspect of his game, which was strong, is no longer there. He is bleeding goals. When the game ended last night Dumoulin was tied for being on the ice for the most goals against (19) in the entire league. Dmitry Kulikov saved him from being the worst as he now sits at 21 after the Ducks west coast game last night. This isn’t just a ten-game sample problem this year. Anybody paying attention saw this trend forming last year. This is something the team could have gotten ahead of, instead they are doubling down. He cannot continue to get top pairing minutes.
If Dumoulin can’t play top pairing minutes then they have two options. Promote Marcus Pettersson or take a chance on Pierre-Olivier Joseph who has played quite well so far this season. If the apprehension is someone like Olivier-Joseph would struggle we are already living in that reality with Dumoulin.
Yeah, we know. This is definitely the same Kapanen. An overpaid and close to useless player on most nights.
The penalty kill is also sinking the team. They’ve given up a power play goal in seven of the ten games. The PK currently sits at 70.6%. It is definitely impacting games.
The team will not get to dwell on last night’s game. They head to Buffalo this evening to take on a respectable Sabres team. They aren’t the bottom dwellers they once were. They’ve had a positive start to the season.
Here’s to avoiding six in a row.
Thanks for reading!