The Nashville Predators scored five unanswered goals to come back from a 3-0 second period deficit and defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was the Penguins sixth loss in seven games and the fifth time the Penguins have allowed five or more goals against in the last month. Petr Sykora, Jordan Staal and Maxime Talbot scored for the Penguins. Once again the Penguins power play failed to perform.
The Penguins were outshot 30-10 during the first two periods and left the second locked in a 3-3 tie. The Pittsburgh Penguins attempted to generate some offense in the third, outshooting Nashville 15-5 in the final frame, but it was the Predators that got the go ahead goal at 9:04 of the third period. They added an empty netter to secure the win.
The string of losses have caused many to call for the firing of head coach Michel Therrien and his coaching staff.
In regards to Therrien's coaching, I don't believe the losses are entirely his fault. I have never been a fan of his coaching style, but it has arguably worked for the past two seasons. However, the Pittsburgh Penguins are no longer playing his system.
Unfortunately, that is ultimately Michel Therrien's fault because either:
a) He's not motivating the team to play his system,
b) He's not adjusting his system to suit the current strengths of the team,
c) He's not explaining the system properly,
d) He's not managing his roster in a way that rewards those who play his system and punishes those who don't, or
e) The players don't want to play his system.
Regardless of the reason, I believe he's not working out.
That is not to say the team is blameless, because they definitely are not. The continue to lose battles for the puck, they continue to not head to the net, and they continue to insist on passing the puck around the perimeter and setting their defensemen up for point shots rather than trying for dirty goals. This is especially true when on the power play. Interestingly enough, two of the three goals that the Penguins scored last night were scored by players (Staal and Talbot) heading to the net. These weren't pretty goals (and in the case of Staal's goal, he didn't even put the puck into the net himself) but they show that heading to the net produces goals. Why the team can't see that I will never understand.
Unfortunately the team's defense is struggling now as well. Marc-Andre Fleury held the Penguins in that game longer than they should have been. There have been far too many turn overs by the Pittsburgh Penguins that have directly led to scoring chances for the opposition.
The Pittsburgh Penguins schedule doesn't get any easier this month. After heading to Colorado on Saturday, the Penguins play Tuesday night in Philadelphia before returning home for a long stretch to play Washington, Anaheim, the New York Rangers (twice) and Carolina. They finish off the month on the road against New Jersey and Toronto. Not only are most of those games against difficult opponents, but outside of Colorado and Anaheim they are all against Eastern Conference teams. The games against Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey will have a lot to do with whether or not the Pittsburgh Penguins make the playoffs this season.
Unless something changes soon, I can't see any of those games turning out well for the Pens.
Friday, January 09, 2009
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