Good morning, dear readers. You all made it to Wednesday, right?
The panic button was pushed early by some of you after the Penguins’ 4-1 home loss to the Islanders Tuesday.
A recap of social-media postings and emails:
–Marc-Andre Fleury stinks.
–Coach Dan Bylsma stinks.
–Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin don’t stink, but they aren’t good anymore.
–Players don’t care.
–The power play is embarrassing.
–THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING.
Actually, it can, and is, and not much of what was opined in the immediate minutes after the latest loss is true.
–Blaming the loss on Fleury is, as is usually the case, uninformed. He was not pulled because of poor play. He was pulled because Dan Bylsma had to try something.
Now, fair is the premise that Fleury should have prevented the opening goal. Maybe the third.
Those saves would not have mattered against the Islanders.
The Penguins played poorly.
All of the Penguins, as Brooks Orpik correctly noted.
–Bylsma has not forgotten how to coach, either.
He knows the biggest problem his club faces is one that cannot be easily fixed. It is a problem of timing, the kind the Penguins did not develop in a training camp that was short and absent exhibition games.
Indeed, every NHL club faces this problem.
Few clubs, though, are built to blend skill and aggressiveness such as the Penguins. Few needed a camp more because so much of Bylsma’s system requires timing – and the timing is off, from stars such as Crosby, who to be fair is basically skating off the rust of two lost years, to role players such as Chris Kunitz, Matt Cooke and Craig Adams.
Consider two seasons back, when Jordan Staal missed 41 games while recovering from injuries. He later reasoned that his game never felt right that campaign and it was because he really missed what training camp would have provided:
Nearly three weeks of leg-punishing hard practices, and practice games to work on his flow.
Crosby is a lot like Staal that way. Kunitz and Cooke are really like Staal that way.
–Malkin and Crosby will be OK.
They have to be.
Otherwise, nothing else for the Penguins matters.
Neither superstar has strung together two typical (by their lofty standards) games.
Neither is historically a fast starter, as fellow Penguins beat scribe Josh Yohe points out in our video recap: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid19384256001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAAHBuCSQ~,m5He7DD2iNxbyz6ucUpaHH1bI1w9eCNa&bclid=2741216001&bctid=2127840303001
(GREAT story here by Josh on the topic of USA Hockey and Pittsburgh Hockey: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/3385780-74/hockey-pittsburgh-penguins#axzz2JNKNP3mA)
–The players care.
They really care.
No, really: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/3378900-74/penguins-islanders-period#axzz2JNKNP3mA
They might care too much.
The poor decisions they are making with the puck are far more because of trying to do too much than a lazy approach.
Also, given the noise fans at Consol Energy Center aren’t making, it would be unwise of the paying customers to throw stones inside the stadium with a glass atrium.
–The power play is embarrassing.
Columnist Joe Starkey will address that Thursday; at least that is the guess of this blog author.
It is the same old problem: Too many cooks in the kitchen.
There was a time when even the most talented of those cooks listened to an executive chef. Takes a special kind of chef to command that respect.
Do chefs like that even exist anymore?
Answer here: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/3336350-74/gonchar-penguins-malkin#axzz2JNKNP3mA
–This is happening.
Still, the Penguins have 6 of 12 possible points while not playing their best, or anywhere close.
Life could be worse: http://flyers.nhl.com/?navid=nav-teamnav-phi
Those opening weekend wins at the Flyers and Rangers are bigger now than then for the Penguins. Those four points provided them some cushion.
–And, finally, there was another club on the ice Tuesday.
A club that is proving quite troublesome for the Penguins dating to late last season.
Arthur Staple of Newsday covers that club quite well: http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/evgeni-nabokov-outstanding-as-islanders-dominate-penguins-1.4532202
Kind of scary when this space is devoted to reason, don’t you think?
Take a breath, all. The sun did rise.