This past weekend was a rough one for Pittsburgh — back-to-back losses in which it was outscored 7-1 — and few Penguins had it rougher than Steve Downie, who racked up 24 penalty minutes over the two games, most of which came during Sunday’s defeat to Detroit.
Downie’s PIM problem has been addressed — repeatedly — according to Pens head coach Mike Johnston.
“As I talked about before, and I met with him before the game [Sunday] and I told him we just can’t have that,” Johnston said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That is a concern for sure. Downie has to play without taking minor penalties, especially obstruction penalties.
“If you take a penalty where you initiate through physical play, or something like that, we can accept that. And he knows that.”
Downie was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct as Boston scored an empty netter late in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat, then was back at it on Sunday, racking up two 10-minute misconducts (one for pushing a linesman) and a crosschecking minor to boot.
The end result? Downie took a stronger grip on the NHL’s penalty minutes lead — he’s now at 221, nearly 50 more than second-place Cody McLeod — and became the first Penguin to eclipse 200 PIM since Rick Tocchet and Ulf Samuelsson did it in 1992-93.
“When [Downie] does take a penalty or something bad happens in a game he just can’t let it go further,” Johnston explained. “I thought he came out of the box, he had a couple of really good shifts for us. That’s what he has to do. Then he just goes back and takes a 10.
“I didn’t like that at all. He knows that. He knows where he’s got to play. And yes it is a concern.”