Well, that didn’t last long.
One night after what was thought at the time one of their biggest wins of the year and perhaps a turning point in their 4-2 win in Philadelphia over the Flyers, the Penguins went right back to their losing ways, collapsing in the third period and losing to the Capitals, 6-3.
The loss was compounded by injuries to Rob Scuderi, Max Talbot, and Sidney Crosby. Scuderi took a slapshot in the forehead when he blocked a shot in the first period. Talbot left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. Crosby seemed to suffer a lower-body injury when he got tangled with a Capitals defender late in the game. While Crosby skated to the locker room gingerly, it didn’t appear that he was seriously hurt.
Michel Therrien has been criticized a helluva lot lately, including by yours truly. But for at least one game, he certainly pulled all the right strings in a huge 4-2 win over the Flyers in Philly.
Therrien employed a 1-2-2 trap that effectively shutdown the Flyers’ high-flying offense, while placing rugged winger Matt Cooke on the first line with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to provide a little protection and to bang some bodies in front of the net.
Both moves worked to a “T”, and neither the Flyers, their fans, nor even their bush-league organist leading the “Crosby sucks” cheers could do anything to stop them.
Statistics are always convenient when a team is going poorly, just as it is when it’s going good.
In reference to the Penguins’ downward spiral, a lot of the scrutiny has been focused on the poor performance of the powerplay, once considered a staple of the Penguins’ offense. In addition, the influx of injuries, simply cannot be overlooked, despite attempts to downplay them (which I’m guilty of).
But there are some other statistics that are sometimes brought up, but not nearly as much as they should, in my view anyway.
So let’s take a look….
Well, they didn’t can Head Coach Michel Therrien after Thursday’s loss to Nashville, how about after this one ??
Despite placing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the top line together for the entire game, as well as each scoring a goal, the Penguins continued to fumble with goaltending and defensive issues that bit them directly on the butt-ocks, resulting in the Avalanche’s 5-3 win over the Penguins in Denver.
The Penguins have now lost seven of their last eight games and it doesn’t get any easier, with a trip to Philadelphia on Tuesday, plus home games Wednesday and Friday versus Washington and Anaheim, respectively.
However, the Penguins are now returning home for a day before heading to Philly. I could very well turn out to be proven wrong, but if Penguins’ management is going to make a coaching move, it’s going to be now.
From the Penguins:
The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled forward Chris Minard from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League (AHL), it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Ray Shero.
Minard enters his third stint this season with Pittsburgh and appeared in five contests with the Penguins in December. The 6-1, 190-pound forward leads the AHL with 26 goals and is tied for second with 41 points (26 goals, 15 assists). Minard leads the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in goals and points, while posting a plus-11 rating. He has been named a starter for the Canadian All-Stars team at the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic on January 26.
The 27-year old played 15 games with Pittsburgh in 2007-08, registering two points, his first goal and assist in the NHL. Minard collected 42 points (25 goals, 17 assists) along with 33 penalty minutes in 56 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season. He also contributed 17 points (11 goals, six assists) and 10 penalty minutes in 23 playoff games, helping the WBS Penguins reach the Calder Cup Finals.
The Owen Sound, Ontario native signed with the Penguins on July 17, 2007.
The current downward spiral of the Penguins certainly provides more than enough fodder for the blogs and message boards.
But the 4-year, $16 million contract extension to Jordan Staal has set off yet another firestorm of controversy in Penguinsland.
NOTE: A lot of my comments on this topic have already been spewed over at Puck Daddy in Sean Leahy’s article.
So let’s break this one down a schmidge, shall we ??
It sure looked good for Penguins fans for, oh, the first 24 minutes of the game, didn’t it ??
Well, unfortunately, that’s when the Pens did a repeat performance of what they’ve done so many times in the past. After taking a 3-0 lead, including a couple goals on very fortunate bounces of the puck, the Penguins coasted for the rest of the night, and the Predators took full advantage of it, climbing all the way back with five unanswered goals for a 5-3 win.
Penguins at Predators, 8PM ET, Sommet Center
Penguins, 20-17-4, 44 pts, 9th in Eastern Conference
Predators, 17-19-3, 37 pts, 14th in Western Conference
Pittsburgh radio host and hockey enthusiast Mark Madden, on his afternoon radio show on Pittsburgh’s WXDX-FM, reports that the Penguins are contemplating replacing Michel Therrien with Pat Quinn. Moreover, Madden reports that had the Penguins lost to the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday night, the coaching change would have been made at that time.
The Penguins are on the road starting Thursday in Nashville, Colorado and Philadelphia before returning home next Wednesday vs. Washington. So it remains to be seen if the change will be made at all, and if so, when.
Last night’s 3-1 Penguins win over the Atlanta Thrashers wasn’t just crucial because it snapped their five-game losing streak, nor because they got two powerplay goals in the process. That snapped a 33 powerplay scoreless streak in itself.
But that’s not the only reason it was a great scene last night.
It should have caused Penguins’ GM Ray Shero’s head to pop a big lightbulb with the realization on what his team desperately needs.
It needs Brendan Shanahan.
About The Confluence
Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.
Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
I am blogger- credentialed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. My posts are regularly linked by hockey websites such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Yahoo!‘s Puck Daddy, and I’ve done numerous guest blogger spots on such websites asthe New YorkTimes. I am a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer.
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