What Penguins Proved What Fans Miss With Zegras
Mike Sullivan didn’t sugarcoat things or dangle a carrot for his team to improve. The Pittsburgh Penguins head coach said he liked his team’s effort after the overtime win at Minnesota and was equally happy after the Penguins’ loss at Colorado.
What would Mike Sullivan change when the Penguins face Colorado on Tuesday?
“The result,” he says flatly.
The Penguins faced Colorado, the NHL’s top team in a 3-2 loss… Colorado earned its 104th point of the season and scored its 99th goal in the third period to beat the Penguins.
Still, the Penguins had more scoring chances (30-26), fired 40 shots on goal and carried the game for long stretches of the game.
New Pittsburgh Penguins lines
Sullivan decided to experiment with the lines on Saturday, and his experiment had mixed results. He moved Jeff Carter from center to Evgeni Malkin’s RW. The bullies took the lunch money from this line, the lunch box and skipped them twice. The Malkin-Carter combo allowed two goals and was largely outplayed, 15-4.
The third line with Evan Rodrigues and Teddy Blueger had chances. Oh, Rodrigues had chances, but the invisible plexiglass shield, which only exists when he shoots, kept him off the scoresheet. He had a 50-foot breakaway and a great rebound chance, but a goose egg on the scoresheet.
I’m going to take a third line creating those chances. They will eventually hit the twin. Law? ….law?
The Penguins’ fourth line wasn’t really a factor. Anthony Angello caught the eye and viewers may never have known. Brian Boyle didn’t make much of an impact either, and the fourth line played about seven minutes.
“I thought it was just a really good hockey game. It was a well played match for both sides. You know, we got a lot of stares. We had quite a few chances. We would normally convert some of them, but they played extremely well,” Sullivan said. “Plus, it was a real competitive hockey game. I just thought it was a really good match for both sides.
However, it was the Penguins’ bugaboo from just the front line creating an offense. Sidney Crosby’s line was stacked again with Bryan Rust and scored the goals for both Penguins.
On the plus side, the Penguins played very well, overall. More importantly, they need to take the lessons learned and apply them to the New York Rangers on Thursday and the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
“I don’t really know the stats, but just a feeling – it felt like we were a lot more in their zone than they were in ours and had more chances than them,” said defenseman Mike Matheson. “So yeah, I think we probably deserved to win that one. Right now they look like the best team in the league in terms of points. So I think that’s a good step in the right direction for us. to know that we are playing against teams like Minnesota and Colorado.
The Metro Division four-point games are the ones that really matter. As intense and heavy as the games against Minnesota and Colorado were, they lacked a certain importance and desperation that only divisional games bring. Scrums, extra shots, bad intentions; can the Pittsburgh Penguins play in the middle of this circus?
Tuesday’s rematch against Colorado will be fun. Thursday’s face-off against the Rangers will reveal that.
Side note – the photo showing Mark Friedman cleaning the net is nice. I’m curious if Sullivan is going to stay with him. Anyone who cleans the net is an upgrade.
Fans are wrong:
The other big issue this weekend was the lack of punishment for Jay Beagle’s actions and words. The Arizona Coyotes forward absolutely crushed Anaheim Ducks scorer Trevor Zegras and hit him for another “Michigan” goal.
Social media roared when the AZ show used the words ‘skill it up’ to describe the transgression.
“That’s the problem with these young players. Want to embarrass the guys? Want to improve? You better be ready to get punched in the mouth.
The Coyotes broadcast applauds Jay Beagle cross-checking Trevor Zegras / beating Troy Terry senseless. Embarrassing comment pic.twitter.com/1AfenuTRkL
— Nolan Bianchi (@nolanbianchi) April 2, 2022
Yeah, the Arizona show got it right. If you want to embarrass people, be prepared. In baseball, they throw you in the head. In football, they twist your knee in the heap. In hockey, they punch you in the face.
Do you think Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky couldn’t flip the puck on their stick and carry it? Sidney Crosby?
Players didn’t because it’s an insult to the game – it’s a game-changer in a number of ways. Let me explain before reacting: how are we supposed to defend “Michigan”?
Suddenly, we have players who play with the puck above the ice. You can’t check. Unable to block the shot. The goalkeeper cannot read the shot. It takes hockey out of hockey.
The only ways to defend it are to hit the stick, which is technically a penalty, or physically bulldoze the player as they attempt the move.
It doesn’t matter if the players are playing with sticks raised above the waist. If you take this to its logical next steps, players will use it to get away from defenders in the neutral zone, get an extra step on evasions, and ways I can’t figure out.
Players will have to defend in kind. You will have players jousting on the puck. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. In this case, literally.
The NHL didn’t punish Beagle for assaulting Zegras because that was the traditional way of dealing with guys trying to outsmart the game. I was wrong a few months ago – Lemieux didn’t get ‘Michigan’ early in his Boston career. Instead, he flipped the puck over the net, out of the goalie, and into the cage behind the goal line.
He was quickly assailed with wickedness.
Either the NHL will have to make a rule against playing with the puck above the ice, or the players will decide if they want it in the game. Who knows, maybe things have changed and players want that.
I don’t like it, but it’s not “my” game. It’s not the fans’ game either. It’s the game of the players, it’s the game of hockey.
The move has the potential to be like Michael Jordan playing over the edge in the NBA. Now it seems the game is being played above the edge. The NBA has changed, and not for the better. Short-term excitement has become a long-term impairment of the game of basketball.
I played basketball almost daily during those years (I couldn’t dump a sweater to save my life). Overnight, the game went from chasing Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s no-look passes, reverse layers and melted jumpers to obsessing over dunking and going over people.
Maybe it’s the NHL’s time like this.
The NHL loves border justice. It keeps everyone under control. The league was never going to punish Beagle for doing his job.
For better or for worse, that is the situation. Before you criticize the league or the Beagle, look at what comes next and decide if that increases or decreases the quality of hockey. I think it lowers it…but I’m still going to cover it every day.