Assistant coach Gary Agnew gives his three impressions from bench of the Pens’ 4-1 loss against Philadelphia.
1. We got the start we wanted. We scored first and seemed to have some energy and some life, but it quickly evaporated. We need to find a solution quickly and get going.
2. We have to put our work ahead of our skill. We’re trying to play skill, and that’s fine, but you can’t play skill and not work. Work has to be first and foremost as our core value. Then everything else comes along, but we gotta work.
3. Undisciplined. You take enough penalties against a team like that, regardless of what you think of the calls, you can’t be in the penalty box that long, that often, particularly in the second period. It wears everybody down and takes away the momentum.
Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the media level.
1. The already-shorthanded Pens spent too much time in the box against the NHL’s third-ranked power play, and while a few of the calls may have been questionable, that doesn’t change anything. The Pens were still forced to play down a man for the majority of the second period and, as a result, spent too much time in their zone with guys like Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist stuck on the bench watching when they needed to be pressing down at the other end. The Pens took two penalties while the score was still tied, and then spent another four minutes on the kill after the Flyers took a one-goal lead. For the second straight game, Pittsburgh asked too much of its penalty kill. We know how good it is. We don’t need to see it this many times in games.
“We can’t be going shorthanded, especially when we have five guys back there that are playing big minutes, each one of them,” Chris Kunitz said. “We have to do a better job of being responsible for each other.”
2. The Pens just didn’t seem to have much life tonight. To be fair, their first 10 minutes were tremendous. They had the crowd behind them right from the get go and came out skating with a lot of energy, had possession for the majority of that time, and got a big goal from Crosby. But after that, their compete level just flagged. The Flyers were playing them physically, but the Pens weren’t fighting hard enough through checks and bodies. They weren’t winning any 1-on-1 battles or races to and for any loose pucks. No one stood out. No one was noticeable. The Pens kind of just stood back and watched, especially the forwards -- who were called out by coach Mike Johnston afterwards for their lack of effort. I do think that fatigue is a factor, especially for the D, though the players would never admit that. It’s got to be wearing them down to play a man short for this long. But some of the missed plays were just plain laziness. That just can’t happen at this time of year.
"They're a good team, they've got some guys that can make you pay if you make mistakes but there's no excuse for that," Crosby said. "That was awful."
3. Overall, there just wasn’t a whole lot of nastiness in the game. It didn’t feel like a typical Pens-Flyers matchup. In their last meeting, the teams combined for 93 penalty minutes; they weren’t anywhere near that tonight as there wasn’t one fight or any misconducts. And while that’s not a bad thing, at the same time there also wasn’t a lot of emotion or intensity or passion, all things that can be corralled into positive energy.
“There wasn’t the chippiness or edginess. That’s something that we should maybe be dictating going into the playoffs,” Kunitz said. “They’re playing for the end of the season. We have to go out there and show the importance (of these games) and show each other that we want to win and do it for each other. Tonight wasn’t a very good effort.”