Be sure to 'like' Hockeybuzz on Facebook!
The discussion about yesterday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings begins and ends with discipline for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
From Head Coach Mike Johnston
“Yesterday,” coach Mike Johnston said, “we lost two of our best players (centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin). Today, we lost our discipline, our composure.”
The Penguins were not on their best behavior and as a result they lost control of the score early on in the game.
This sums up the day in a nutshell:
That tweet was from before the third period. You can add an additional ten minute misconduct for Steve Downie to that list.
On a day where the Penguins did not have Evgeni Malkin you need everybody to step it up a little bit, especially the players who can provide the team with some offense. Kris Letang can’t be getting kicked out of the game, Chris Kunitz can’t be getting 10-minute misconducts whether he is scoring goals or not, and Steve Downie needs a sedative.
The irony of the Steve Downie situation is that Rick Tocchet was supposed to be the guy to reign Downie in. Steve Downie just passed the 200 minutes mark in penalties. He is the first Penguins player to do so since:
Mike Johnston has grown tired of Downie’s penalties and said so much after the Boston game.
The problem here is that Downie is one of the Penguins better bottom six forwards, but if he cannot stay on the ice and cannot be trusted to do so then he enters unplayable status. This doesn’t help the team at all. His 0.43 points per game leads all bottom six forward for the Penguins.
If Downie doesn’t play that means that Craig Adams and/or Andrew Ebbett will. This doesn’t make the Penguins a better team.
This was the first time under Mike Johnston that the team has reacted in this fashion. For now it is an isolated event. I’m not going to make a mountain out of an anthill.
An issue that could have some long term ramifications is the health of Patric Hornqvist.
Mike Johnston’s immediate response
to the situation was not encouraging:
“He left with an injury,” Johnston said. “We'll find out (Monday). It looked bad when he came off the ice. I'll get a report from the trainers.”
Here is the video of when the injury occurred.
It wasn’t an ideal weekend for Mr. Hornqvist:
For the Penguins to be able to make a run in the poststeason they will need all hands on deck. The depth may be improved this year, but it isn’t good enough to lose a legitimate top six winger.
If Hornqvist is out for an extended period of time it will come down to either Beau Bennett or Nick Spaling to fill that void. Nick Spaling has played better in his more appropriate bottom six role. He does not have the offensive skill set that Bennett does. It would be sink or swim time for Bennett as he is the best option to fill in.
That is what I would go with to start, however Sutter will never be taken away from his role as the 3C
If no Malkin you have to get more creative
If you are looking for some good news. The Penguins don’t believe that Malkin’s injury is long term (where have we heard that before).
Also, David Perron has started scoring goals again. They were the result of great feeds from Sidney Crosby below the goal line. So that is encouraging.
Sidney Crosby is tied for second overall in total points. He shares that distinction with Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals. All three players are only one point back of the leader John Tavares. Crosby has played in seven fewer games than the leader. This is partly due to the mumps and also because the Islanders have played in two more games than the Penguins to this point.
Derrick Pouliot may have been “demoted” to WB/S but he did not play in their game yesterday, further indicating that it was a paper move.
The Penguins normally would have the day off after back to back games but they will be practicing today. The thing to keep an eye out for will be Evgeni Malkin’s participation.
Thanks for reading!
Follow me on twitter