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Penguins Humiliated at Home by Islanders: It’s Beyond Flat Now

It's not often when the team that is supposedly the Stanley Cup contender is getting booed at home loudly and with a lot of frequency in only the second home game of the season.

But that's exactly what happened at the Consol Mausoleum last night, as the "inferior" New York Islanders skated circles around the lackadaisical Penguins, 4-1.

That makes 3 losses out of 4 for the Pens, with only a 2-1 shootout win in Ottawa this past Sunday the exception.

Whereas the Penguins' performance in the home opener last week vs. Toronto could be attributed to being "flat", although I'm incredulous how you can come out flat in your home opener, I don't see how that term can be used any longer.

It's beyond flat now, it's a frickin' mess.

There's absolutely no flow to the Penguins' game right now.

Half of the Penguins roster are virtual ghosts.  Through six games, the Pens' 3rd and 4th lines have a total of one goal, that by Tyler Kennedy.  Brandon Sutter, while he definitely shows promise, has yet to make Pens fans forget Jordan Staal.

The superstars are making maddening extra passes, or overpassing.  There's no initiative to simplify their game to just get the puck on net and get some dirty goals.

Now that I mentioned dirty goals, there is absolutely NO net-front presence on this team.  There's no Knuble, no Holmstrom.  And sorry, Eric Tangradi is not and will not be that guy, at least on this team.

The power play is completely unorganized.  It's so bad right now, it's a moral victory when they can even SET UP the power play.  Moreover, having James Neal and his wicked wrister on the LEFT point while Kris Letang is on the RIGHT point is asinine.

The defense is on shaky ground, putting it politely.  After the ankle injury to Matt Niskanen, the Pens reinserted Simon Despres, who held his own, to give him credit.  Simply put, there was a lot of standing around by this group.

I usually don't enjoy these "rant" posts, but given the circumstances, it's hard NOT to.

Next up?  Back to MSG, where the Pens meet the Rangers once again.

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It sure is frustrating, and is exacerbated by the truncated season.

My thinking is that the lack of playing time for the majority of the Pens roster is really showing in terms of speed and systems play.

Looking at the teams that have started the season hot, most had numerous guys playing in Europe or the AHL. Am i accurate in thinking the Pens had one of the lower numbers of active players in the lockout?

That aside, it isn’t good enough, and hopefully it turns around quickly. Luckily, the division rivals aren’t faring much better.

Posted by sbutler66 on 01/30/13 at 11:34 AM ET


Tony, i completely agree.  Wow, that was brutal to watch last night.  Here are a couple of my thoughts:
- Kunitz needs to step up.  He is someone they count on to be physical and get points, and he is doing neither.
- I understand the reasoning behind playing MAF twice in a row, especially after only giving up 1 goal in the past game, but Vokoun deserves to play as well.
- Malkin is not happy right now… and i have no idea why, but it is showing in nearly everything he is doing on the ice.
- Why does DB break up the Sutter, Cooke, Kennedy line when they looked so good at the begining of the season?

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 01/30/13 at 11:39 AM ET

Tony's avatar

Am i accurate in thinking the Pens had one of the lower numbers of active players in the lockout?

Yes, according to one article I saw, the Pens only had 4 players (Engelland, Jeffrey, Malkin, Glass) that played in Europe… .That list is not official, though…

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 01/30/13 at 12:13 PM ET

Tony's avatar

- Kunitz needs to step up.  He is someone they count on to be physical and get points, and he is doing neither.

I agree, specifically he’s made some poor decisions with the puck going into the offensive zone…..

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 01/30/13 at 12:14 PM ET

Russian Rocket's avatar

Don’t understand Jeffrey not getting into this lineup more. Tangradi has shown, at this point he is nothing more than a 4th liner (Maybe he evolves into more, power forwards can take time but it’s not working right now).

TK has shown he is basically a 3rd line lifer.

Glass and Cooke are completely ineffective, no physicality, no forecheck.

Lovejoy is useless for all intents and purposes… he’s just alright, not great at anything… why not put Bortuzzo in and see if he can help steady things.

Won’t even comment on the PowerPlay but what has happened to the PK since the playoffs last year? They just stand around and have no aggression whatsoever, completely passive.

Posted by Russian Rocket on 01/30/13 at 01:44 PM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

I completely agree with everything you’ve all said. The no-look passes are driving me nuts I love Bylsma, but could it maybe be time to go back to a hard ass coach like Therrien?  I’m not sure the players’ coach is working anymore. Thoughts?

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Denver on 01/30/13 at 02:55 PM ET


While I hate missing games, I am glad I missed this one.  My wife said she shut it off after the 2nd anyway.  I would think Bylsma would get a couple weeks to get things together and then it’s time to move on.

Posted by pens fan in baltimore on 01/30/13 at 03:10 PM ET


I don’t like blaming the defensemen for the way the team is playing (other than Lovejoy, maybe).

Seems to me they’re getting put in brutal positions by the forwards/system (gap too far to make a breakout pass and the up-ice players are covered anyway, turnovers in the soft areas) and getting caught in situations where the puck reverses and they’re stuck on an island by multiple opposing forwards that are bringing speed at them while the back-checkers are caught somewhere down the ice. I know of no strategy that can allow defensemen to reliably succeed in that situation. Incidentally, this is exactly what Philadelphia did in the playoffs. Bylsma had 8 months to adjust to the Flyers’ tactic (really, should say the Ottawa/Islanders’ tactic, since they were the first to start stuffing his breakouts like this), but doesn’t appear to have done so.

Bottom line is this is on the coach. Either he can’t adjust to X and O counters or the forwards are ignoring his instructions. Might be both, but the former is definitely true, as evidenced by the laughable powerplay, which would better be served with Jeff Serowik, Pat Faloon and Victor Ignatiev in Constantine’s configuration than the current personnel in Bylsma/Reirden’s.

Anybody got Paul Maurice’s number?

Posted by larry on 01/30/13 at 04:30 PM ET


Won’t even comment on the PowerPlay but what has happened to the PK since the playoffs last year? They just stand around and have no aggression whatsoever, completely passive.

Posted by Russian Rocket on 01/30/13 at 12:44 PM ET

Staal was so friggin big he was one stride away from being in poke-check range of the point men at all times. He’s in Carolina doing the same thing these days.

Posted by larry on 01/30/13 at 04:35 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

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I said it over 2 seasons ago, Bylsma walked into a perfect storm, Players were sick & tired of MT’s BS, calling guys & team out in media.

Screaming & never giving credit, so when Nice guy Dan came in they were like Race horses let out of the barn

thing was MT had drilled his system so into their heads & defensive responsibility, when combined with nice guy Dan act & letting them run it let to a cup

SINCE “installing” his system look at the results, as they got further & further away from MT’s influence the worse they have gotten & it really shows up in the playoffs where your opponent scout you & then break you down

& Bylsma refuses to adjust just keeps reciting the same BS Lines “We have to get to OUR GAME”  & “who is going to wear the cape”

Posted by Evilpens on 01/30/13 at 09:11 PM ET

Laran's avatar

I don’t really understand why everyone thought Pittsburgh would be top of the league or even top of the conference again. Do they have possibly the 2 best offensive forwards in the league? Yes. That’s never been the issue. The issue is depth. 

For example just look at their top 12 forwards. They only have 4 true top 6 guys (Malkin, Crosby, Neal, Kunitz) and the rest are plugs/grinders/unproven guys for the most part.  Dupuis on your top line is not a positive.

Have a look at the rosters of New York and Boston who are their biggest competition. It doesnt even compare in my mind. Hell even Ottawa is showing more depth with the youth they have coming up in their forward ranks. In fact I can’t seem to remember the last time Pittsburgh has developed a successful forward prospect into the NHL not drafted with a top 2 pick. Kennedy? The guy playing much of this season on their 4th line. Or how about Tangradi and Jeffrey? The 2 have combined for 26 points in 113 games. Not exactly Stellar.

Posted by Laran on 01/31/13 at 03:45 AM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Kunitz is NOT a legit top 6 F ! never ever

Posted by Evilpens on 01/31/13 at 08:28 AM 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.

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