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Bravo Scuds, Bravo

When asked if the Penguins deserved to win what ended up being a disappointing 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers this past Friday night in Western Canada, veteran Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi pulled no punches, saying:

“Absolutely not,” Scuderi said. “If you're going to try and play hockey like the Harlem Globetrotters, you're going to get burned.  We continue to make the same mistakes, go for the same highlight reel plays.  “That might look good on the highlight reels every now and then, but it's not a formula for winning.”

While none of his teammates were specifically mentioned during his postgame rant, make no mistake about it.  He was referring to two of his teammates with among the highest salaries, center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang.

They weren't the only ones, it was an ugly game no doubt.  But after reading Scud's quotes, all I can say is one word:  Bravo.

If you've followed the Penguins long enough, and let's not beat around the bush, since the Crosby-Malkin era started, this has been a common complaint.  It's the no-look backhanded passes, it's the extra pass on the 2-on-1, not only negating the scoring chance but swinging momentum the other way.

In the meantime, while the hotdogging continues and the high-percentage shots are continually passed up, the opponents get back in the game, resulting in lost leads.  Not only lost leads, but lost them late in periods, time and time again.  And yeah, sure, the Pens have been talented enough to overcome a lot of those situations.  But then again, it doesn't matter a whole helluva lot in the regular season though, does it?  

The problem with all that, though, is that it's always been the fans complaining about the aforementioned showboating.  I joked recently on Twitter that the Pens need to start playing "Sweet Georgia Brown" while they have the puck.

But now, finally, we have a player that has spoken up.  Will his comments be addressed privately?  We'd like to think so, but whether anyone actually changes their game because of it is the real question.

This is nothing new for Malkin.  As I've opined year after year, unless something radically changes, either as a result of coaching or on his own, fans have to take the good (great) with the bad (undisciplined).  Same thing, albeit to a lesser extent IMO, with Letang.  While Letang isn't prone to the fairly regular hotdog plays that Malkin will attempt, Letang's problem originate with poor decision-making, mainly on the defensive front.  But again, just as with Malkin, it's Catch-22.  For as soon as you watch Letang gliding up ice into the offensive zone a-la Paul Coffey, you'll just as soon watch him make a horrible turnover resulting in a goal for the opposition.

As I said, there are others, and yes, Sidney Crosby hasn't been without his rash of turnovers as well.  Craig Adams has been pretty lousy lately in his limited role.

Some are probably saying, what am I bitching about, they're 33-12-2, for heaven sakes.  This leads us back to Scud's comments.  Now is when these traits need to start being weened out of the Penguins' high-flying offensive game.  This type of play is not a formula that results in playoff success.  The playoffs are all about defense, whether that be with the defensemen, or goaltending, or penalty kill.  Penalties are not called nearly as often, which means the Penguins' potent power play will get much fewer opportunties.  Opponents will collapse in their defensive zone and attempt to block everything going toward their goal.

So while the Penguins are doing great now, and might I mention that Marc-Andre Fleury continues to play great as well, I will continue to be on a wait-and-see status for both Fleury and the Penguins.

The real question, though, after Scuderi's comments will be what the coaching staff will do about it, if anything.  Penguins ownership came rushing to HCDB's defense after getting swept out of the playoffs by the Bruins last spring, giving Bylsma a contract extension through the 2015-16 season.  It remains to be seen, though, if the Pens fail to ramp up their defensive posture for the playoffs and get bounced early yet again, what the ramifications will be.

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Comments

SYF's avatar

Oh, there’s a lot of this in the KHL.  The plays are beautiful, but it’s all offense obviously and it must drive the coaches nuts when the action starts going back and forth at a high rate.  It makes for great viewing.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 01/14/14 at 08:26 PM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

This:

Some are probably saying, what am I bitching about, they’re 33-12-2, for heaven sakes.  This leads us back to Scud’s comments.  Now is when these traits need to start being weened out of the Penguins’ high-flying offensive game.  This type of play is not a formula that results in playoff success.  The playoffs are all about defense, whether that be with the defensemen, or goaltending, or penalty kill.  Penalties are not called nearly as often, which means the Penguins’ potent power play will get much fewer opportunties.  Opponents will collapse in their defensive zone and attempt to block everything going toward their goal.

I’ve been thinking this for a long time. As good as the Pens are in the regular season, I don’t think this coaching staff can make them do the things they need to do to win in the playoffs. I’m hoping the addition of Jacques Martin aids that issue significantly, but I’m not counting on it.

Tony, it’s great to see other Pens fans acknowledging that this doesn’t look like a playoff team.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Chicago, IL on 01/14/14 at 08:48 PM ET

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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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