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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Penguins This and That by @ChicksDigHockey

- I think tonight’s game will be a statement game about the state of the Penguins. Being in second place is certainly not cause for panic but they sure could use a division win. Rally 'round the puck, boys!

 They need to play a cleaner game. They’re spending way too much time in the penalty box.  In their last 3 regulation losses, Pens opponents have totaled 16 mins in penalties while the Pens have 30 mins total time in the box. That led to being out-scored 15-6. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out…..stay out of the box. 

- David Perron split the D and went 5-hole to score the Pens' second goal on Sunday. It was beautiful.  It was also about the only joy to be had on Sunday.

- The Isles, and to some extent, the Rangers were able to grind the Pens down this past weekend. The Rangers played like a win was inevitable; they showed no fear. I hate when people say one team is in another’s head but I think that’s true of the Rangers for the Pens. They made a lot of unforced mental errors.
Both NYR and NYI enjoyed way too much offensive zone time. Against the Isles, Crosby and Sutter’s lines spent a lot of time pinned in their own end. Okposo didn’t mind! If you look at the last three times the Pens and Isles have met, the Isles have out-shot the Pens in 5 v 5 situations 176 to 131.  Unacceptable! 
The Pens don’t have to dominate the Metro but they can’t be the division’s bitch either. A little net-front grit and a willingness to muck it up and grind it out would go a long way right now.
- Steve Downie is a most interesting character. A highly skilled screen- writer could not script a better character. He clearly has hockey skills. He clearly gets the game. He clearly gets to a point of no return when he’s angry.
On Friday night against the Islanders, I was begging Coach Johnston to get Downie off the ice when he became agitated at the official over the slashing 'no-call'. In the following minutes you watch him escalate to and then surpass the point of no return. He’s wearing the officials out and it’s reflected in their lack of patience for all things Downie.
I know I’m not the only one to voice concern over his behavior. In his Friday Insider column, Dejan Kovacevic summed it up this way: “The refs bitterly resent having to track Downie’s every move on the ice, including behind the play, as well as the sillier antics such as that bizarre unsportsmanlike minor a couple of weeks ago for flat-out refusing to leave the inside of the faceoff circle. It drives them batty. And because of that, they have a tough time listening to any lip from the Penguins’ players or bench.”
In July, I took a look at the storied relationship between Steve Downie and Coach Tocchet (I think I got it right because Coach Tocchet gave the post a ‘favorite’). Is it fair that because of that relationship, many Penguins’ fans view Tocchet as Downie’s keeper? Do Downie’s issues extend beyond what can be ‘coached’ and cross over to what needs to be ‘treated’? When Downie was in the OHL, he was ordered to undergo counseling after an incident in practice and almost as soon as he started playing in the NHL he was suspended for 20 games for a vicious hit. 
On the other hand, because Downie brings the crazy, he draws penalties and discourages other teams from taking liberties with the Pens’ stars. Sunday saw Downie play a decent game and mostly go unnoticed. He played 11:59, took 2 shots, zero hits and finished -2. The hypocrite in me says the Pens could have used a little mayhem.
- I’m anxiously awaiting the return of Patric Hornqvist and Blake Comeau. Hornqvist (13G 16A) has been out since 12/27 while Comeau (11G 8A) was sidelined on 12/23. We know what each of them brings to the team but now there’s Perron. I keep thinking that if the Pens can just hold on until they come back….damn!
  HEY GENO.........

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