At some point you knew the Penguins were going to lose a game. I mean, I go into every game thinking they are going to win but that is just an unrealistic possibility. Today was one of those games where noting goes right and team you root for is just outplayed. Well, that was today for the Penguins.
Remember when the Penguins played the Islanders on Tuesday and they took unlimited penalties and still won the game? Well, this was kinda like that except that the Devils were able to crack the Penguins penalty kill and a pair of power play goals turned out to be the difference in a close, tightly called, game. The Penguins went to the box a ton and the Devils had ten power plays while the Penguins had seven. The Devils gave up an early goal but then locked it down and Martin Brodeur was pretty outstanding in his 1,200th start. Whatever.
Some people are going to put this one on the officials and with the number of times that the Penguins went to the penalty box you almost expect people to feel like that. If you have read me of any length of time you know that I do not ever think that officials dictate the final score. They did not do that today, no matter what anyone wants you to think. The Penguins were largely careless and sloppy and while a few of the penalties in the beginning of the game were questionable a majority of them were good calls and when you play with fire long enough you are going to get burned. The Penguins got burned. Some will say that the Penguins had so many more penalties than the Devils but is that really true? Sure, the Devils got ten power plays but the Pens got six and would have been seven if Evgeni Malkin wouldn't have negated one when he was goaded into roughing Andy Greene. So, ten power plays to seven, is it really that bad? Did the officials prevent the Penguins from scoring in five of their actual power plays? Doubtful. The Penguins were outplayed and undisciplined.
All that being said that doesn't take away from the fact that the Penguins are now still four games over .500 this season after 12 games and have won five of their last six games. Are things really that bad? Nah, they are alright.
Things got away from the team in the latter stages but Marc Andre Fleury was very good for a vast majority of the game. After the first period when the Devils got off only seven shots they pelted Fleury in the second with 12 and he stopped all of them but one which was a beautiful backdoor play set up by Greene. The second MAF really had no chance as he was screened in a bad way and a puck clanked off the post to Adam Henrique who put it in the empty net. That goal was a real result of some good luck. The puck bounced right off the post to Henrique almost as if the post passed it to him. Nothing you can do. The third goal was on Fleury as he just got beat under his right arm in a goal he should have probably stopped.
One thing that was very noticeable over the course of the game was that the Penguins were letting the Devils get right in MAF's face during the power play. With ten power plays that is a lot of screens for MAF to work around and while he made it work for a while it was just too much in the end. It was actually sort of weird as the Penguins have done a pretty good job this year of keeping the crease clear but today it seemed if they just totally ignored the net front presence. That is something that will need to be addressed but as I said it hasn't been something that has happened too often this year so maybe it was just a one game thing. The problem is that while it might be a one game thing the Devils had ten power plays. Not a day when you want to have that happen.
The offense had a terrible job getting things done. Big hats off to the New Jersey defense as they shut down one of the most powerfully offense in the league and limited them to one (power play) goal and only 25 shots. Malkin didn't have his best game and you could see as the game went on he got frustrated and it showed as he negated a power play with a roughing call and was just a little off. He will be alright.
All told I am just going to chalk this up to "one of those games" and hope that the team can just get it back together for their game tomorrow at the CONSOL Energy Center against the Devils. Going into the weekend you almost thought the Penguins were going to split these games and if they can win tomorrow then everything will really be back to normal.