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Pittsburgh Penguins |  Some celebrations and a lot of disappointments

Pittsburgh Penguins | Some celebrations and a lot of disappointments

(Pittsburgh) There has been no shortage of opportunities to celebrate in recent weeks for the Pittsburgh Penguins.


There were 1000H Lars Eller's game, then former Penguin's Marc-Andre Fleury, also became the second goaltender in league history in terms of wins. Recently, we dedicated an entire weekend to Jaromir Jagr, whose career we celebrated and retired the No. 68.

The problem is that these moments of exaltation are not invited onto the ice. In the locker room on Wednesday morning, the atmosphere was not celebratory. The faces were long, the answers short.

The team has lost five of its last six games, including Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Kings, with Jagr, Mario Lemieux and most of the greatest players in the organization's history.

“We definitely wanted to win this award,” admitted Christopher Letang. We played a very good game, but we couldn't score the goal which would have hurt them. We lost two very valuable points. »

Photo by Charles Leclerc, USA Today Sports Archive

Christopher Letang

After that defeat, followed by another setback, in overtime, to the New York Islanders on Tuesday, the Penguins found themselves eight points away from last place, allowing them to reach the playoffs. Alexei Morozov's former club certainly have games in hand, but the gap is still huge, even more so with three clubs ahead of him to knock on details.

Last year, the Penguins missed the playoffs for the first time since Sidney Crosby's first season in 2005-06. The possibility of losing them twice in a row became very real.

“It's not easy to accept,” Letang continued. when [le directeur général] Kyle Dubas came in last summer and made some big changes, and tried to give us a chance to get back together, get ourselves back from last year. We have to start winning, otherwise we will miss them [les séries].

“I wouldn't say it's frustrating,” the 36-year-old defender said. I would say it's disappointing. »

problems

It's hard not to scratch your head in disbelief when comparing the Penguins' roster to their position in the standings.

Since there are many high-income players, the depth of attack and defense is necessarily affected. We still think a club with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kristofer Letang and Erik Karlsson would have done better.

Photo by Charles Leclerc, USA Today Sports Archive

Sidney Crosby

The numerical advantage was this group's main weakness. Because yes, it is indeed the Penguins who made it to 30, thanks to their 13.5% hungry success rate.H Circle rank. This is despite the presence of four future celebrities on the ice.

Other explanations are more abstract. Because at five-on-five, the stats show a team that certainly lacks finishing touch in attack, but should theoretically be in a much better position. Where do we look, then?

Defender Pierre-Olivier Joseph said: “A good team starts with chemistry, and it was more difficult at the beginning of the season to play well together.”

Goalkeeper Tristan Jarry, who is also having a good season individually, pointed to a lack of “consistency” at his club. He added: When we play well, we become one of the best teams in the league, but we are unable to show up [ce visage] Every night,” he analyzed, also targeting shortcomings in terms of structure and positioning.

In the same vein, defender Marcus Pettersson added that he and his teammates “escaped some close matches that…[ils] He should have won.”

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This is perhaps the most obvious consequence of the above problems. So far, the Penguins have played 23 matches that ended with a single goal difference. They have emerged victorious only seven times. Their .304 winning percentage, under the circumstances, is the worst in the NHL. Just a few more goals would have automatically converted into points in the standings.

“That was the topic of our meeting before the game against the Islanders,” Pierre-Olivier Joseph said. We didn't want to let a match like this go to waste. These are small details that will hurt us at the end of the year. »

Photo by Charles Leclerc, USA Today Sports Archive

Lars Eller and Pierre-Olivier Joseph

In a news conference, head coach Mike Sullivan was oddly coy when asked about his group's difficulties turning close games into wins.

It's easy to draw conclusions from statistics, but they lack context. We can look at how many games we've lost by one goal, but how many multiple-goal downs have we turned into one-goal downs because we came back from behind to give ourselves a chance to win? You have to look at a lot of statistics to try to get the real story, what's really going on. Our coaching staff has that context, which you don't have.

Mike Sullivan, Penguins head coach

good. But the ugly situation this team finds itself in is very real. However, no one gives up.

“It can change quickly,” Marcus Peterson recalls. We need to keep things simple, not think about March. »

“We learn from our mistakes,” Pierre-Olivier Joseph emphasized. I am convinced that with the team we have, and with all this talent, we will find a way to get the necessary points. I don't understand why luck isn't on our side. I'm sure victories are coming. »

We can't blame Quebec for his lack of enthusiasm and optimism. That's good, his team really needs him.

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