This was the most sound defeat the Pens have suffered all season. We remember the drubbings in MSG and Ottawa, but at least the Pens were thwarted by stellar goaltending in those games. In this one, the Stars played like a desperate hockey team, and the Pens had no answer. The Pens actually looked shell-shocked for most of the game.
Monday's loss against the Panthers wasn't a big deal. This game? Not a giant issue, but more of a concern that will be a reference point. The loss of Dupuis may have finally kicked in. Crosby and Kunitz were playing with Tanner Glass by the end of this game, and that is just insulting to everyone involved.
A couple of isssues
- Travel schedule. Easy excuse here, but it’s been a long week of games and hopscotching for the Pens. The January grind and the dog days of winter can't be overlooked.
- The Penguins are top-heavy. We’ve been beating this drum since the beginning of January: the bottom six is a real problem. Look at this game for example: two shots from players on the bottom two lines. Two. That is awful.
- This probably goes with number two, but the Penguins are living and dying with goals on the power play. They have scored only 73% of their goals at even strength. That is 21st in the league. Take a look at the teams around them in those rankings:
Not the best. 120 goals is a ton, but 42 power play goals ( and 2 shorthanded) are what’s putting the Penguins in the win column a lot.
- Letang and Malkin in the lineup means the Pens play more loosely. There is an overwhelming amount of chatter about this. In the 9 games since Letang and Malkin have returned, the Penguins have given up 30 goals. But the problem with that thought is there is no stat backing that up. Malkin is a plus-7 in that time, and Letang is a -1. Without black-and-white evidence, it has hard for that point to be used in any rational argument.
Two things to actually be concerned about
- Brooks Orpik. Orpik has been on the ice for 13 goals against in the last 10 games, penalty kills included That is a concern. By comparison, Letang has only been on the ice for 7 goals against. Is there a reason Brooks Orpik can't be called out by anyone?
- As we said above, now that we have a decent sample size, Crosby and Kunitz need some help. With Dupuis, they had 57 points as a line. Without him in the last 10 games, they haven't done much at even strength:
No question a move is coming after the Olympics, and that move will result in a -- gasp -- winger for Sid. Hopefully a trade comes through that also puts some talent into the Pens’ bottom six. It’s easy to point to the Pens’ current place in the standings and wonder what there is to complain about, but you can’t be so short-sighted. Hopefully Shero isn't.
RECAP of this drubbing:
The Pens have now had "one of those games" twice in a week. These games have come with all their big-name defensemen back in the lineup, so maybe they're all still going through a feeling-out spell.
3. Kari Lehtonen -- Good shutout for him, but it wasn't worthy of the number-one star since Dallas had an amazing game plan set up. Pens had maybe three or four quality chances.
2. Jamie Benn -- Too good.
1. Sergei Gonchar -- The old man can still drop the bomb from the point. Got the game-winner in this one.