Well hello there. It has been some time since I have been able to get on and give a recap but here we are. Over the break the Penguins have been winning hockey games and while they haven't always been good they are still winning and really that is all you can ask for at this juncture. Last night the Penguins weren't able to overcome some overall sloppy play and it led to a loss to a pretty bad Edmonton team.
The Penguins really only played one good period of hockey. Typically they have been able to win games with only one good period but not tonight. The second period was really good for the Penguins when they scored two of their three goals and really made Edmonton look as bad as their 14-27-5 record.
Alas the Penguins had to play 60+ minutes of hockey and when you only play 20 minutes you aren't going to win most games. Overall in the game the Penguins had 15 giveaways (yikes) and while this isn't something that is surprising if you watch the Penguins when you don't have your best offensive game that will kill you. While the Oilers are bad team they still have talent in Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and they made the Penguins play.
There were some good things that went on. They were few though. Sidney Crosby scored a goal and assisted on another and crossed off Edmonton on his list of teams that he hasn't scored a goal on. He now has 67 points on the season which gives him 13 more than anyone else in the league. He has been so good this year that if he stays healthy it will be a runaway for MVP. With all the injuries he has kept this team going.
When James Neal is giving cheap shots and getting suspended he has been as good as it gets. He scored the first goal of the night and it was an absolute snipe. He has 17 goals in only 26 games played and right now he is on pace for a 41 goal season. Just think about that. He is on pace to play only 62 games but still on pace to put up 41. Jesus. If he can keep his head on scoring goals he is as big of an asset as anyone else on the Penguins and the goal he scored last night is exactly why.
Kris Letang is just a weird player. The talent and athleticism he has is really close to unmatched in the league but sometimes he just can't control his emotions and that can turn all that good into something really bad. Letang has actually been really good the past few games, especially in Vancouver with maybe his best game of the year while last night he scored the Penguins third goal with a little over six minutes left that probably should have been the game winner. Letang has some blips last night but what he brings to the table outweighs that for me. He has been getting beat up on some borderline calls and he's handled that pretty well. He was called for a pretty fringy penalty at the end of the first period but was able to come back with a solid game including the goal. Solid game from Tanger.
Everything else was relatively awful. If you have come here and read my stuff at all you know I am one of the biggest supporters of "it's just one game" and "losses happen". That is exactly what this is but there are trends that are still going on. The turnovers are a huge problem. The lack of depth in the bottom six forwards is still a problem. The Penguins were winning in spite of it but when you lose it becomes evident.
In the past three games the Penguins have given up 13 goals. Thirteen.
Jeff Zatkoff was off last night. I don't really know what it was last night but he looked like he wasn't tracking the puck very well. He was going down into the butterfly really early, even when there wasn't much traffic in front of him. Zatkoff has been pretty good all year and by no means am I saying this is on him because it was much more than that last night. However, Zatkoff wasn't very good last night and really the Penguins are lucky they were able to get a point out of this game. If the Oilers were able to hit the net they could have probably had six goals or so.
The big talk after the game was in overtime. The Penguins were on the penalty kill at the end of the game and the Pens sent out Craig Adams, Brooks Orpik, and Tanner Glass were the PK guys. Now Dan Bylsma knows a lot more than me but this just seems like a pretty tough matchup for them. Granted a 4-on-3 against some of the talent that the Oilers had on the ice would have been really hard for anyone on the Penguins but I would have to think you want to have at least one guy on the ice that could skate. Who knows though, it shouldn't have even got to overtime.
The Penguins have blown a few leads of late. They gave up a two goal lead in the third period and then another lead after the Letang goal. In Vancouver they needed a frantic comeback after giving up four straight goals. Now this stuff happens but when you are as good as the Penguins are you need to be able to protect a one goal lead with under five minutes left in the third period.
All told the Penguins got a point which is good. They didn't deserve a point, but they got one. Sure a win would be great but they have only lost four games (three in regulation) since the beginning of December. The Penguins are up by eight points in the East (they have also played two more games than Boston) and they are up 16 points in the Metro Division (they have played two more games than Philadelphia and Washington). That is not bad. Things could be a lot worse. A lot.