If you’re a Pens fan, admit it – you held your breath…
Crosby takes a puck to the face. Appears to be OK.
— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_PGH) October 22, 2015
Points of Emphasis:
Marc-Andre Fleury gave up a strange goal mid first period, when a knuckling puck was lost among the background crowd. It was possibly touched by a high stick but that was missed at the time.
After that, things went downhill fast for the Pens, as the Stars found a level of play reminiscent of their opening night match-up. All of the goals scored by Dallas were up high, so they may have found a chink in Fleury’s armor. It’s possible that Fleury is simply tired, after starting the first seven games of the season. However, a highly-tuned athlete shouldn’t be getting tired after so few games. After last night’s shellacking, let’s see if head coach Mike Johnston gets Jeff Zatkoff some work or continues with who (until last night) was the hot hand.
Bonino’s First Point as a Penguin
Nick Bonino scored his first goal as a Penguin halfway through the 2nd period.
Bonino with a complete "screw everyone I'll do this myself" effort
— Meesh (@HockeyMeesh) October 23, 2015
He now has 6 goals in 16 games against Dallas. Shortly thereafter, the Stars added another goal to retake a three goal lead, so any momentum created by Bonino’s effort vanished.
[pull_quote_right author=”Mike Johnston”]They can’t let frustration creep into the game because they’re not scoring. They have to stay on task: Play good defensively, play the right way, and get shots to the net.[/pull_quote_right]
With just over 3 minutes left in the game, Jason Demers elbowed Bonino in the face, receiving a 5-minute major. This led to a power play where over a minute of it would be 5-on-3. Despite the advantage, a loud *ping* was all the Pens could muster as their woes with the man advantage continued.
The power play is merely a concentrated example of the general state of the team: They are struggling to score right now.
Penguins have some tough decisions to make with Kunitz and Perron in the top-six.
Both experiments have to be on life support.
— 2021 Jim (@SportsingJim) October 23, 2015
Johnston pointed towards getting more traffic in front of the net as medicine for what ails the team.
“When we talk about putting pucks to the net, we talk about getting second chance opportunities. I really think this year, so far, we’ve haven’t had a lot of second chance opportunities. Most goaltenders on that first shot – you’re not going to beat them at a range. You’ve got to get a second chance, and those usually come off of screens.”
I’m not suggesting it’s time to panic. I am suggesting that the time for panic is drawing closer. The Pens are currently 3-4-0, with only Carolina and winless Columbus below them in the division. The team’s 11 goals ranks last in the Metropolitan. However, their goals allowed remains solid, with 15 putting them in a division tie for 2nd.
While only five points back very early in the season, things will continue to spiral out of control unless the Pens start to overcome this scoring dearth.
Demers has been suspended for his elbow on Bonino.
Dallas’s Jason Demers has been suspended two games for elbowing Pittsburgh’s Nick Bonino. Video: https://t.co/SQveQiHkSi
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) October 23, 2015
Lee is a contributor here at The Hockey Writers as well as at Pens Initiative. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, he worked an internship at VH1 Radio in NYC and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Penn State – New Kensington campus student newspaper, The Nittany Pride. You can visit Lee’s website here: leecjsobotka.com.