If the Penguins could change anything about their performance in tonight’s 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers, it would probably be their lack of discipline in the first period. After all, when assistant coach Gary Agnew had to give his three impressions of the game, here was number one, per the Penguins’ website:
The first period, you can’t take four minor penalties. It just kills your momentum if you had any, but obviously giving up the early goals, especially the early goal, they fed off their crowd and got rolling pretty good with the momentum and t8hat caused us to take those penalties. We’ve got to be more disciplined.
And if you need further convincing:
It sounds straightforward, but this isn’t a new issue for the Penguins. In the regular season they had the second most minor penalties in the league with 349 and their 13.7 PIM per game was higher than any other team. If not for an impressive 84.8 penalty killing percentage, they likely wouldn’t have gotten to the playoffs in the first place, but penalties hurt even when you don’t surrender a goal.
Tonight was a good example of that as the Rangers took the lead just 28 seconds into the contest and the Penguins basically had to wait until the second frame before they could attempt to get back into the game because they spent a good chunk of the first playing a man short.
Perhaps Pittsburgh will change its game, but given that this has been a persistent problem this season, there’s certainly cause to suspect this might also be an ongoing narrative in the series.