A lot of bold statements and glum descriptions will flow from the Pittsburgh Penguins after a second gnawing defeat (this time 8-5) to the Philadelphia Flyers. While the stunned silence of the Consol Energy Center crowd speaks volumes, there will be quite the cacophony of criticisms in the next couple days.
Really, there are a lot of potential culprits, so I thought I’d turn to PHT readers for the ultimate answer on who’s most to blame for the Penguins entering Philly in a scary 2-0 hole.
Marc-Andre Fleury: For all the trouble Ilya Bryzgalov’s had, here’s a selective stat that hurts: he hasn’t given up a lead yet. Fleury has given up plenty, but Game 2 was especially rough: he allowed seven goals on 30 shots as the Flyers made it look easy.
Kris Letang and the defense in general: Of course, Philly is carving up “MAF” because of some alarmingly lax defense from the Penguins. It’s not fair to blame Letang when it seems like the entire team is falling apart, yet as the leader of the defensive unit, he’s likely to be the face of such criticism.
Dan Bylsma: Of course, you could also make the argument that the 2011 Jack Adams winner is getting thoroughly out-coached. While Peter Laviolette looks like a genius by staying with Bryzgalov and taking some well-timed time outs (redundant?) one might argue that the Penguins are getting “sucked in” to the Flyers’ aggressive style. One really cannot argue that Pittsburgh is playing horribly with leads. Some of that falls at the coaches dress shoes – it’s up to you to decide how much.
Star scorers not named Sidney Crosby?: I’m placing this category under “patently ridiculous,” but I wouldn’t be surprised to see an argument made there. Evgeni Malkin and James Neal had two assist apiece but matching -4 ratings; Chris Kunitz scored twice but had a -5. That might be material for some blame.
Penguins GM Ray Shero?: Another ridiculous (but kind of funny in a “Try to make that point with a straight face” sort of way) idea, but some people will bristle at the fact that Jaromir Jagr scored the game-winner while Maxime Talbot made his presence felt with a goal and an assist. Some will, quite amusingly, say that the Penguins could have had one or both on their side.
OK, so that was sort of a fun little exercise in reckless finger-pointing, wasn’t it? Go ahead and choose the guiltiest party in the poll and comments – there’s a write-in candidate in case I missed a spot with all the broad strokes.
It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.
To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:
The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)
That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:
They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.
Cheap shot on a superstar, a little uncalled goalie interference and presto – Blue Jackets win!
The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.
You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.
That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:
Coach Bylsma: Feel like after Jack's goal, the game changed for us. #gamechanger