Down three games to zip in the first round?
Hey, anything can happen in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The problem of penguins now, following their 4-1 The loss to the islanders in game 3 on Sunday at the PPG Paints Arena, is one that has affected several teams each spring.
Sidney Crosby Y Jake guentzel no score?
Ok, they're human. "You have to find a way to score goals at this time of year," Crosby would say. "It's not easy, but you have to find a way". And in the case of Guentzel, he is going through an injury that would normally keep him out.
Matt Murray Did he blow himself up twice right after his team took the initiative?
That is not ideal either. "We just have to keep moving forward," he said. "That's all we can do." But they would not be in the tournament without him, and otherwise he has been fine.
Justin Schultz inexplicably pinching in the second of those New York goals, even though the forwards were changing on the fly?
As he said, "Just a bad move from me."
Mike Sullivan again being overcome, on and off the ice, by Barry Trotz?
A complete objective, from one end of the fourth line, after another game of a complete goal, from a third pair defense?
Four full shots at 5:16 of the power play time?
The double of gifts that the islanders, 16-8?
Getting scorched in any other race by Tom Kuhnhackl?
The Pittsburgh crowd being appeared by the Long Island crowd?
That list could go on and on, much more than these 10, and yes, I'm sure you could create a bonus slot for the mere existence of civic scapegoat Dominik Simon. But the coldest fact about this almost frozen work job to date is that the list of people involved with penguins that have exceeded their duties in this series could be summarized for … maybe Erik Gudbranson?
My God, that might not be hyperbole.
When any equipment that I cover works well, I will dig and dig to find out why. When that team does not perform well, I also touch and ask questions of participants from both sides, delve into new and old statistical models, and ideally I will end up with a fair representation of what went wrong. . And the only issue that almost never arises, particularly in the playoffs, is the effort.
Not this time. Not after this game.
Because, being blunt here, these guys did not care. Anyway, it's not damn enough.
I could live with the two losses on Long Island. They tried it out there. They fought. They bled. They defended each other. They skated with enough enthusiasm to cut that muddy, muddy ice from the front to the end.
See this. Seriously, just look:
They are 50 seconds of the fabulous fourth line of New York. Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin Y Cal Clutterbuck, facing five penguins. That's right: it's three against five. Because Trotz never allows his defenders to pinch. They are so far in this sequence that they have hardly seen them. And yet, during those damn 50 seconds, there is not a single solid double team in Cizikas, Martin or Clutterbuck. Or a single seal control to allow a teammate to pick up the disk. Or a single smart slide to remove one of the two approval options.
Look again. This time only the black sweaters. Consider the clock. Consider the circumstance, drop two goals in what is essentially a elimination game, then watch what they do.
How did that happen?
Rewind the penguins by jumping first From Garrett Wilson tip. The place was jumping for the first and only time, the opponent was placed in his first uncomfortable position of the series, and this was allowed to continue half a minute later:
This was not inspired by the whole board, and do not let the coach retire: just after his fourth line got him a great goal and a rare advantage, Sullivan sent the boards a line of Crosby between Phil Kessel Y Zach Aston-Reese. And if that is not familiar to me, it's because those three had shared an ice surface for 3 minutes, 28 seconds throughout the season.
Incredible moment to see what they can do.
Imagine the effect that Jordan Eberle Snipe had in the bank, as I mentioned with Wilson:
It does not matter the effect of the islanders adding another 62 seconds later:
Look Brock Nelson And Kuhnhackl did Crosby in the New York area?
Hm They did double team. They rushed forward as if they meant it and flew away.
See what Schultz did on that side, lunging forward to try to hit Kuhnhackl even when Nelson and Josh Bailey whizzed by?
Ugh The line between effort and focus fades into a sport as fast as hockey. Focus is the effort. And when the coach preaches incessantly about when to pinch and when to step back, and that happens … that's not trying hard enough.
I hate this a lot, if only because it is as ugly and boring as hockey. But then, that takes two. The penguins had a clear and unrestricted possession that emerged from their area. Brian Dumoulin I still did not have many options at the start, with the islanders lining up four through their blue line, but there is another step or two that can be taken, another second or two in which someone can open, another body or two that can pull Your way for a smarter chip behind the defense of New York.
In its place … it was that. As flat as Pamela's pancake, and changed back to the red center.
Heck, just isolate in Aston-Reese that slips down the right wing, as if it were folded in the forecheck with Nick Bjugstad, type of back peeling From Robin Lehner Predictable wrap around the tables, but a bit of doing none.
That's effort, focus or some hockey hybrid of both.
Worse than any of the above, at least from my point of view, was the following: How this group, most of them just a couple of years removed from consecutive Cups, found the necessary awareness to cover all of the last 15 minutes of this game to such An extreme that even islanders with excess caffeine eventually slowed down, possibly out of pity?
It was a difference of two goals, to shout loudly, but it resembled the preseason at every point on the court: the hard skate does not stop. No aerosols near the fold. No pushes. Not crispy There are no hard drives in any race through the neutral zone, at least none that have been detected, until there is one with 3:52 in order.
As a veteran member of the office he observed me later: "I could not believe it, nothing, we did not do anything".
This was a playoff game. A critic. And its result was determined, in large part, by a disparity in effort. For this franchise, with everything achieved, with Mario lemieux Look, in front of their own faithful payers, is shameful.
Or at least it should have been. But I did not detect anything of the kind in a wardrobe that seemed impregnated with denial.
I asked Kris Letang If the penguins were flat: "No, I think we had our chances." In the second period, we could have won the lead, the goalkeeper made great saves, and it's hard to play hockey when you're out for a goal, or down two when they're playing a style like that. "
Kessel asked a similar question about whether the collective effort was there: "Yes, I mean, we all care, we all want to win, we'll just try to get the next one and move on."
Trying would be a good start.
It was as if this was something meaningless on Monday night in November against Minnesota.
The same applied to Sullivan, who is ultimately responsible for the effort and focus of his team. He has always been frank in finding fault with any of these facets, but he felt as if he were shrinking when asked if he was seeing the correct acceptance of his players: "Uh, I'm not sure I have an answer for that. they want to win, and they understand what is needed, so I'm not going to sit here and say they're not buying in. Hockey becomes a game of mistakes sometimes, we just have to do a better job of limiting some of what we're doing, that's all. "
I do not understand this group. I just do not
They care. All of them. Sullivan as much as anyone. But something has been wrong with these penguins since the opening night, and I can not help but start wondering if there has not been too much comfort level, a complacency for too long. Throughout this strange winter, they have simply turned the switch when they have wanted it, and everything has been incredible.
Well, the other team has always cared and you do not have to start making it all of a sudden.
In the morning, a couple of hours before the confrontation, Sullivan became angry when asked about the level of desperation of the Penguins: "I'm not sure I like that word because it implies a certain level of hopelessness badociated with it. Many words because I do not think that is the mentality we need. "
What about now?
GALLERY MATT DOMINGO
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