Matt Cullen has been around the NHL game for the better part of the last two decades, so it should never come as a surprise when he offers some insight into why a game went the way it did.
That said, I thought he hit the nail on the head when discussing the Penguins’ 4-0 loss in Philadelphia tonight.
The Penguins were finishing up a five-game, eight-day road trip that spanned four time zones. Due to weather, they flew into Philly on the morning of the game. They weren’t going to have their best legs.
The key is to accept those facts and then find a way around them.
The Penguins didn’t do that tonight.
“I think as a group, we need to do a better job on nights where we’re not at our best and not at our sharpest of finding a way to stick around and keep it close and give ourselves an opportunity to win. That’s the challenge of becoming an elite team. We’ve found a way to win in a lot of different scenarios this season. This was one we let slip.”
I think any potential answer the Penguins might have found to this riddle had to include a power-play goal. In fact, when Brayden Schenn was called for slashing with 3:12 left in the first period of a scoreless game, I think the Penguins had their best — and perhaps only — chance to come away with points tonight.
Score there, sit on a lead, capitalize on mistakes and grind it out.
Instead, the power play looked awful, the Flyers scored twice in the first seven minutes of the second period and that was all she wrote.
Sullivan on a bad night for the power play pic.twitter.com/fBPEzxbNc4
— Jonathan Bombulie (@BombulieTrib) March 16, 2017
— The Penguins lost another player to injury mid-game tonight when Ron Hainsey didn’t return to the ice for the start of the third period. Mike Sullivan didn’t have an update on his condition after the game. They almost lost goalie Matt Murray too when Travis Konecny delivered this Kinshasa in the second period.
Konecny and Murray collide. pic.twitter.com/NKkVz5TbpI
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) March 16, 2017
Murray took a shot to the head the last time he played in this building too, suffering a concussion on a collision with Schenn in the last game of last season.
Here’s what Murray said about this incident.
“The guy apologized for it. I didn’t see a replay, so I didn’t know exactly what happened. I got checked out and I’m good to go.”
— Looking at some shot stats tonight, Guentzel-Crosby-Sheary continued to drive possession, though the four shots they combined for were down from recent efforts.
On defense, the Dumoulin-Hainsey pair was a possession driver at even strength before Hainsey got hurt. The Streit-Ruhwedel pair was not. Kunitz-Malkin-Kessel, which struggled the previous two games, had an uneventful night.
— Keep an eye out tomorrow for a story on the Guentzel-Crosby-Sheary line. They’re so much fun to watch. They’re fun to write about too.
Bye for now,