We start off week two of this blog with a very dissapointing loss to the Rangers and the news that two of the Penguins games would be cancelled this week. The New Jersey Devils are struggling with a COVID outbreak so they will take a break from action. The Penguins resumed play on Saturday against the Islanders and lost 4-3. The 0-2 week moves the Penguins to 5-5-1 on the season and still fourth place in the East Division behind the Bruins, Flyers, and Capitals. There wasn’t much to talk about with the Rangers game. The Penguins continued to struggle on the Power Play. You can see some of what Mike Sullivan had to say about it. He seems like a Yinzer from the South Hills talking about the need to shoot the puck but it really is that simple. It could be argued that they were the better the better team for around the first 30 to 35 minutes of the game, being able to create opportunities during 5-5 play but just not being able to put the puck in the net.
Jason Zucker scored again, making it three goals in four games. The second line has played better as of late and it is nice to see him being rewarded. The first period ended with tempers boiling over and Kasperi Kapanen getting in the mix with his first fight as a Penguin. It should probably be his last because it didn’t look like he knew what he was doing. He is a player that just can’t be taken off of the ice for 5 minutes.
Sidney Crosby does a lot of things that showcase how he is still one of the best players in the world. It even goes unnoticed sometimes because we are all used to his tricks at this point. What he tried to do in the second period would have been near the top of the list and made the internet go insane. Even just attempting it got some buzz. If you missed it, Crosby got the puck behind the net, picked it up on his stick, and attempted the Michigan wrap around goal. He was denied but it was still pretty impressive to see it attempted in a game.
One player that benefited from all of the power plays is John Marino. He set a career high in time on ice with 30:30. If you look through the last 23 seasons since the NHL started keeping track of ice time, he had the most ice time by a player not named Kris Letang and Sergei Gonchar.
Saturday night, the Penguins opened up their first game against the Islanders this season. They will play four times in the next two weeks. A back and forth game saw the Penguins fall 4-3 but much like the Rangers game, you could say that the Penguins were the more dominant team. P.O. Joseph continues to play well and gets awarded with his first goal. Evgeni Malkin, who I have been very hard on this year, scored his first even strength goal of the season. The top line created a lot of scoring chances.
The difference in the game really was a bad defensive play by Kris Letang and sub par goaltending from Jarry. Letang’s decision-making has always been poor, but it is completely inexcusable for how bad it has been this season. Up one goal, with your defensive partner chasing the puck carrier behind the net, you can’t leave the front of the net.
Jarry actually looked a little better than some other games this year. The save below was a great save but he is staying too far back in the net and giving up bad rebounds. That is why Matt Murray was passed on in favor of Jarry so he needs to improve or he might get passed up for DeSmith for good.