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3 Impressions: Canes 4, Pens 2

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins assistant coach Gary Agnew gives his three impressions from the bench of the Penguins’ 4-2 loss to Carolina.

1. Well, first of all, I thought that we had a great start. We had all kinds of chances and didn’t bury it, but we weren’t able to sustain it for some reason tonight. They took over the game probably late in the first/midway through the second and we responded somewhat, but we needed more.

2. I thought Sid played a hard game again tonight. He went to the paint. He created the goals. I thought he backchecked hard. I thought he had a lot of energy tonight and certainly was a guy that stood out there.

3. I thought our counter attack didn’t have much pizazz. We were sort of hanging onto the puck and couldn’t find people with any speed. We’re a rush attack team. We can get some things going off the rush and we didn’t seem to open up the ice for that to happen.

Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box.

1. There wasn’t much, if anything, to like about this game. After the Penguins produced a couple of decent shifts to start the game, the Hurricanes were all over them – and Pittsburgh had zero response. The Pens couldn’t break out of their end or get through the neutral zone to save their lives. It was a rough night for the D-men, who kept coughing it up in the D-zone or making bad passes that the intended recipient couldn’t handle. And the few times the Pens did move the puck out of their end, they tried to stickhandle through pressure and the Hurricanes would force turnovers between the blue lines and head back into the zone. The Pens did such a good job at the beginning of the year of producing controlled breakouts where they supported each other and moved up the ice as a pack, but they’ve been getting away from that lately. They’ve been too far away from each other when making passes, and teams are able to step in and intercept.

2. The Pens didn’t get nearly enough shots on net. They had just nine after one period, 16 after two and 22 total. That was certainly a byproduct of their struggles to gain the zone, but at the same time, it’s not like they didn’t have their share of offensive zone shifts throughout the 60 minutes. They just weren’t making enough of an effort to get pucks and bodies to the net. This team has a tendency to pull up on their entries and look for the pretty plays, but on a night like this when things just aren’t going the Pens’ way, they have to start looking for garbage goals and forget about trying to be fancy. They have to start making more of a concerted effort to just throw everything they can at the cage. Good things tend to happen when they do that.

3. I’d say the one bright spot in this game was the play of Sidney Crosby. He was just so, so strong on the puck all night long. It was one of those nights where Crosby would virtually singlehandedly work the cycle in the offensive zone whenever he was on the ice. And he didn’t just move the puck for the sake of moving the puck – he made things happen, earning the primary assist on both of the Pens’ goals. Both helpers were gorgeous.

BONUS: After the game, the players were very critical of themselves and their effort level, Kris Letang especially. I asked him the biggest thing he felt they needed to improve on going into tomorrow, and his response was “Everything.” He called it a “horrible game,” saying that “we have to turn the page and focus on what we have to do and make sure we’re ready for a big game tomorrow.” We’ll see if they’re able to bounce back and respond.

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