Penguins assistant general manager Bill Guerin shares his three observations from the management booth on Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Flyers at CONSOL Energy Center.
1. You can’t turn the puck over.
2. I think 'Flower' (Marc-Andre Fleury) really held us in there and gave us a chance, especially in the second period when the shots were 18-6.
3. And I really liked Nick Spaling’s game tonight. I thought it was complete. He got us off to a good start. I thought he checked well. I thought he played physical when he had to and he made a difference tonight. I thought he was one of the better players for us tonight, maybe the best.
1. The Pens had yet another strong start
Michelle Crechiolo shares her three impressions from the media level.
Led by their captain, the Pens came out flying (no pun intended) at the start of the game. They got a power play just 1:43 in after Sidney Crosby swung all the way down to his goal line for a breakout pass, carried with speed into the offensive zone and essentially worked the cycle singlehandedly, protecting the puck and drawing a penalty as the Flyers tried to take it from him. The Pens dominated from there. They scored a goal, produced an extended O-zone shift filled with rapid-fire shots and passes that lasted almost a minute and had the fans on their feet, and earned another power play courtesy of Crosby.
2. They started forcing things
However, despite having the better of the play, the Pens found themselves down 2-1 after the first period. And because of that, in the second period they started forcing things trying to get back into the game. The Pens tried to make the pretty, flashy plays instead of the simple, easy ones (which happens from time to time with the amount of talent on this roster). For example, forwards were trying to stickhandle through groupings of Flyers, defensemen were making risky D-to-D crosses at the blue line under pressure and the team as a whole was making one too many passes in general. Because of that, the Pens couldn’t get through the neutral zone and the Flyers would come back the other way, pinning them in their own end for long stretches – where they looked sloppy and disorganized.
3. Their execution was lacking
The Pens did push hard in the final minutes trying for a comeback, cutting Philly’s lead to 4-3 with just 2:57 left in the game. But overall, the Pens just didn’t execute the way they needed to in order to win the game – both offensively and defensively. For example, during their strong start, the Pens didn’t capitalize on two first-period power play chances – instead letting the Flyers score as soon as the second one expired. Then on Philly’s first two third-period goals, both R.J. Umberger and Matt Read were left all alone and made the Pens pay. Those breakdowns in D-zone coverage can’t happen. As Crosby put it, “We can’t hurt ourselves and make mistakes. We have to make sure we elevate our game and create more to give ourselves a chance to win.”BONUS:
Pittsburgh gold returned tonight for the first time since 1992 when the Pens wore their third jerseys for the first time since unveiling them in mid-September. They were everything we hoped they would be and more. The vintage look is fantastic. Everything is clean and crisp and the colors really stand out. We wish they could wear them all 82 games instead of just 12.