Assistant coach Gary Agnew gives his three impressions from the Penguins’ 2-0 loss against the New Jersey Devils.
1. It’s what we expected. They’re a very defensive-minded club. They play for that one chance and they got their chance, and we weren’t able to get ours buried. The lack of scoring and our play in and around the net hurt us.
2. Greiss made some big saves when he had to. He played hard.
3. We were fine away from the puck. Our checking was good. We just needed to be better, more often, earlier.
Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box.
At times it was difficult to tell which team was Pittsburgh and which was New Jersey. In the past, the Pens would get frustrated by the Devils’ disciplined neutral zone trap and start forcing passes and making turnovers. However, under head coach Mike Johnston, the Pens have done a masterful job of sticking with their system, playing strong defensively, and not forcing offense when it’s not there. The Pens stuck to their defensive game against the Devils. The result was a very tight, close, defensive struggle between the two clubs.
2. Offensive Zone
As stated above, the Pens didn’t force any bad plays through the neutral zone. They made the right reads and, when nothing was available, simply dumped the puck in and then won puck battles. The result was that Pittsburgh generated a lot of offensive zone time, particularly in the first and third periods. As such they also created a good amount of scoring chances, as shown by their 35-19 edge in shots. One key to their possession game was Sidney Crosby’s work in the circles. Though he was only 6-for-15 in the game, Crosby won 5 of 7 draws in the offensive zone. That helped the Pens gain initial possession and kept the pressure on New Jersey.
3. Missed Opportunities
The Pens generated enough shots and scoring chances to beat Devils goalie Cory Schneider, but they weren’t able to find those loose pucks in and around the net to finish the play. There were many opportunities and a lot of bouncing rubber. The Pens just didn’t get to those pucks early and often enough to make them count.