Penguins Update: Ouch! – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Update: Ouch!

It was another Thursday evening. March 22, 1984, to be exact. Before Mario Lemieux, way before our first Stanley Cup.

During the darkest era in Penguins history, the “Boys of Winter”—as eminently forgettable a bunch as ever stumbled around an NHL rink—waddled into their personal den of horrors, the Philadelphia Spectrum, and were annihilated by the Broad Street Bullies. The final score, a ridiculous 13-4.

Back then, you expected losses like that, especially to powerhouse teams like the Flyers.

You sure don’t expect them now. Not on the heels of back-to-back Cups. Yet that’s exactly what transpired last night before a sellout throng at Chicago’s United Center. The Pens, suffering the very definition of a Stanley Cup hangover, lost to Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks by three field-goals…or a touchdown, extra point and safety, if you prefer.

Just goes to show that no team, even one as talented and accomplished as our Penguins, can afford to take shortcuts.

Talk about shocking. Brandon Saad celebrated his return to the Windy City by slicing through our pudding-soft defense for a hat trick. Kid forward Ryan Hartman piled up five points—far and away a career high. Kane tallied four points. On the flip side, black-and-gold goalies Antti Niemi and Matt Murray were strafed for nine goals on 44 shots.

“I feel bad for them,” said defenseman Kris Letang. “I don’t know what to say. I’ll say I’m sorry for these guys. They don’t deserve that. They’re two guys that battle really hard. It’s not the way to start Antti on his first game with his new team.”

It’s enough to make even an unshakable optimist like the late “Badger” Bob Johnson reach for the Prozac. I’d be willing to bet Marc-Andre Fleury texted condolences to a few of his ex-mates. And he’s the one playing for an expansion team.

For the better part of two games, the Pens have skated as if they missed the memo announcing the start of the 2017-18 season. Either that, or they were laboring under the false impression that all they had to do to was step onto the ice to earn two points.

It’s as if they forgot how to play hockey in one short summer.

“It’s early, but it’s disturbing,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “When you lose a game like that, it’s disturbing. I don’t care when it is in the season. We’ve got to do some soul searching. Right now, we are simply not playing the game the right way. We’ve got a long way to go, and it starts with a mindset.”

Expect “Sully” to gather his troops at the earliest opportunity, whistle in hand, for a refresher course in Hockey 101.

Make no mistake, there’s plenty to work on. Defensive-zone coverage has been abysmal. Gap control, nonexistent. So is any discernable effort on the part of the forwards to backcheck. The net result (no pun intended)? Murray and Niemi have been lit up like a pair of Christmas trees during the height of Yule season.

Nor is the transition game clicking. During a particularly befuddling sequence, newcomer Matt Hunwick held the puck in the face of a Chicago forecheck, even though he had ample opportunity to pass it to a teammate. Which led to an inevitable turnover and Grade-A scoring chance.

Puck possession? Fuhgeddaboudit.

The same goes for talk of a three-peat. Maybe that’s a good thing, at least for now. The team has more pressing issues, like rediscovering its passion and purpose.

“We have a good group here,” Sullivan said. “I know these guys care. I know we’re better than what we showed tonight, and I know we’ll be better than what we showed tonight. The responsibility falls on me.”

The players, too.

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  1. October 6, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    So, no one is going to blame either of the first two games on really bad goaltending?

    I get it, 44 shots is a lot. Tell Carey Price who faced 45 shots and Mike Smith who faced 44 shots against Edmonton. Both have save percentages above .950. Jimmy Howard & Semyon Varlamov faces 39 shots each and have .949 save percentages. We have Matt Murray at .831 and Niemi at .692.

    That is what I am most scared about.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      October 6, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Hey Phil,

      I don’t profess to know too much about Niemi. I’ve heard he plays his angles well, but is vulnerable moving side to side and covering the posts.

      Kind of what we glimpsed last night … 🙁

      I’ll give him a pass for now. The way the Pens played defense last night, King Kong couldn’t have kept the puck out of the net. Godzilla, maybe … 🙂


    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      October 6, 2017 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      Hey Phil,

      Looking at some stats; of the 43 odd shots Carey price faced yesterday, only 2 players had average shot lengths under 20 feet, each had 2 shots. Evander Kane had 11 of those shots and his average shot length was almost 30 feet, Girgenson had 6 shots and averaged 34.7 feet, and Ristoleinen had 4 shots and had an average shot length of 87 feet.

      Chicago had 5 players who had average shot lengths under 20 feet. Saad had 5 shots and average 14.6 feet per shot, P Kane had 2 shots at an average of 15.5 feet, Kero had only 1 shot but at 18 feet, and Hartman had 3 shots averaging 19 feet.

      Yes the number of shots faced were similar, but Montreal protected their goalie a whole lot better than the pylons wearing the Penguin sweater last night. I don’t know if their is any site that I could look on to see the total number of shots under 20 feet each team faced but looking at those average shot lengths it really does look more than a bit lop sided to the Pens goalie detriment.

      I think even you and I should be able to stop those 90 foot shots from Ristoleinen and pad our Sv%.

  2. 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
    October 6, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Wow! That’s about the only reaction I can muster, and I haven’t been toking in years. It looked like they were playing the role of the New Jersey Generals versus the Globetrotters. “Outplayed” is too kind an observation.

    They showed some mettle Wednesday, but last night they could have come onto the ice and played on their knees, or just sat in a corner, and the result wouldn’t have been much worse. This was the worst whipping I’ve seen in 50 years because there’s no excuse for it from a team with four of the best players in the league wearing its sweater. Wednesday was a “slow start.” Thursday was a train wreck.

    We’d all like to understand what happened last night, even Wednesday night, but I don’t think parsing Xs and Os is necessary. They simply weren’t ready to compete. They know all the details I might be able to point out, plus many I’d miss, and that they need to tend to them as quickly as possible. I have no doubt they know that, intimately. I have no doubt they’ll act accordingly.

    I’m only going to point out one thing that’s been nagging me for some time and throw it out there for discussion if anyone cares to comment.

    Yes, our net minders were hung out to dry, in both games, but to use that cliché to slough it off is a bit premature. The success of this team this season hangs on many factors, as it always does, but goal tending may top this year’s list.

    I know. I know Murray has won two cups in a row, but, he really hasn’t borne the weight solely on his back. For all the calm, quiet demeanor, the zen-like concentration and the stellar performances already under his belt, he’s still an unknown quantity with regards to having to carry a team for a full season. He’s still an unknown quantity as a leader. And, he’s one who’s glove hand is still suspect. He has yet to look “comfortable” this season, counting the preseason, too.

    There is no MAF 60 feet away this year. There’s a Niemi, who now finds himself in the unknown quantity column, too. Murray has to win 40, and the back up(s) will have to pitch in 15-20 more. That’s gospel, to me, anyway. This year, in the Metro, 10 points down in January will be eight points too many.

    It has to be a team effort, but the guy in net has to anchor it. Two bad games may not shake his confidence, but to assume it hasn’t nibbled at the edges is to assume too much.

    Okay. Two things.

    It’s not yet time to panic, but it is time to make/have alternate plans, plans that include some serious attention toward defense, for one and all.

    The defense from every skater needs to be proactive, immediately. No more standing ten feet away from puck carriers and waving your stick at them. When did it become, in this league, a wayward second, or third tier thought to attack a puck carrier? I see at least two dozen opportunities in every game I watch to knock a puck carrier on his butt. If it actually happens thee times per game, that’s a lot. Maybe I’m old school, behind some curve I don’t recognize, but aching ribs and difficult breathing is as good an application of gap control as there is. It’s also a proven method for slowing down an opponent. It’s true, you probably won’t intimidate them, and you may even get burned once in a while, but they’ll be thinking. Sometimes thinking is more dangerous than fear.

    For now, they have what they have, and have to assemble, or reassemble, it as quickly as possible. After just two games, I find myself wondering if a bonafide 3C will make much difference if the rest of the bottom six can’t get its act together. And, thus far, even if it is only two games, I can’t see that Aston-Reese (on Malkin’s wing), Sprong on the third line with McKegg, Archibald in place of Reaves, and Bengtsson showing Hunwick the press box, would make things any worse. After all, it was the young guys, the “call ups,” who’s energy, and innocence, reignited the team the past two years. That’s something to keep in mind.

    If penguins had feathers, I suspect there would be some floating about in the locker room and the practice ice. To have gut check time two games into a season is a bad precedent, for any team. But if these first two games, and especially last night, indicate anything, it’s that they are deserving of just such a check.

    – 55

    • October 6, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Ha, sorry I was writing my comment above when you must have posted yours about goaltending! I agree and am a bit worried. Murray was protected by Sullivan and what I mean by that is that in back to back games Murray always go the soft one. He was protected once again in this back to back series by luck of the team wanting him to start opening night. I will be interested to see how the goaltending plays out over the season.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        October 6, 2017 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

        Hey Phil,
        The goal tending combined with this 3rd and 4th line combos are going to make for a very long season I am afraid to say. We need help if you think these guys are going to 3 peat !

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      October 6, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Hey 55,

      Good comments. Your point was echoed above by Phil about Murray. I am still a Murray man and I really don’t think MAF would have fared any better, he had his doors blown off plenty of times last year, but Murray doesn’t have the luxury of time to grow into the leader of this team, he has to step up and step up now. The Pens D as team (as you said) are soft. there was no way in the world that a whole lot of those goals could have been prevented by a goalie, both of them needed the support of their D, if even just a little. It almost looked as though Chicago was just running shooting drills on goal for most of the game.

      To your point Phil, yes Price and Smith may have faced in the mid 40s for shots, but not having watched those games, and how many of those shots matched the quality of the ones Niemi and Murray faced, I would not compare them. Perhaps they did face the same quality of chances but I highly doubt many teams would allow so many shots from the crease and so many odd man breaks in one game, at least Cup contenders teams wouldn’t.

      The worst part of this team’s D is that they just shelled out $9.6 mil to keep a couple of D men and don’t seem to be getting much in return.

      But to your question about goaltending, If last years trend continues then I wouldn’t count on even Price, Bobrovsky, and Holtby not getting nick up like this. Maybe not to this extent, those teams have better D, but pretty much all goalies got touched up last year for at least one game above 5 and the Pens themselves chased 2 of those three goalies off of the biggest stage of all, the play-offs, when goalies have to be at their sharpest.

      Last night, Chicago pummeled the Pens zone for nearly 80 total shots; that is a recipe for inflated goals against averages and deflated save percentages. That is more than 1 shot per minute. I am not sure if George Vezina would be able to long stand under that kind of pressure, especially considering how many of those shots were quality shots.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      October 6, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Hey 55,

      Great to hear from you. As always, your comments are well expressed and make a lot of sense.

      In an article over on the PG, Mike Sullivan hit on a lot of the very same issues, especially the lack of compete and physicality when it comes to checking. It truly was appalling how freely we allowed the Blackhawks to just skate around us with nary a challenge.

      As a counterpoint, I recently watched a video clip of then 40-year-old Gary Roberts pummeling the Flyers’ Ben Eager back in ’08. God, how I wish he could still play. Not to beat people up, necessarily, but for his straight-ahead, no-nonsense approach.

      I wonder if he has any kids? If so, I’d draft ’em.


    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      October 6, 2017 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

      Hey 55
      I agree that last night was not pretty.No matter how much you try to put a spin on it,Chicago was a far better team. It would not matter if Crosby had scored 3 goals last night, ..the score would be 10 – 4. I do not want to panic but this team has to play 110% every night to win.On paper and on the ice, this Pen’s team is inferior to last years by a wide margin.
      Good points you raise my friend.

  3. October 6, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Ouch is right. Where’s the D at?

  4. October 6, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Before I read Rick’s article or the comments, I want to say that the NHL 100% set the Penguins up for failure before the game even began. The players all had to do non-stop interviews the day before starting early and going long after the game. Is it harder defending two cups? what about the loss of players? blah blah blah On top of that, back to back games early in the season before they have their legs, and having to travel to a completely rested Blackhawk team eager for a kill after getting swept out of the playoffs last year. C’mon, that was a set up.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      October 6, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Hey Phil,

      Great points, the league no doubt doesn’t want the Pens to 3-peat. All sports leagues labor under the impression that parody (misspelling intended) is good for the sport.

      However, I do feel that the right combination of players in this organization would still have produced better results. I really don’t think the best players the Pens have are skating in games and even the ones that are there aren’t paired right.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      October 6, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      I hear ya, Phil.

      By my unofficial count, the Pens play back-to-back games a mind-blowing 18 times this season. Loosely translated, roughly half their schedule involves back-to-back games. That’s absurd.

      Unfortunately, that, too, is the NHL. Try to penalize your marquee team as much as possible. How I wish we had someone in charge who actually understood the sport, instead of an NBA refugee (Gary Bettman).

      While I’ll agree the goofy scheduling certainly contributed to our woes, it isn’t the root cause. I hate to keep harping on the same issue, but when Bonino, Cullen and Kunitz left, we not only lost three quality forwards (an entire line, if you will) but we lost character guys who helped lead the way.

      The same goes for Fleury, Daley and Hainsey. Guys who were confident in their abilities and knew how to play through adversity.

      Replace them with guys who maybe are just glad to be here, and it changes the team dynamic. Suddenly, you have more passengers and less guys doing the actual pulling.

      Again, an inevitable reality of the salary-cap era.


      PS—If the Pens do manage to three-peat, the NHL will probably require them to mush in on dog sleds from Dawson City for the next season opener … 🙁

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        October 6, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        Hey Rick,

        The loses of Bonino, Cullen, and Cullen were bad; Fleury too. I am not so sure about the loses of Daley and Hainsey. The Daley who patrolled the Pens blue line last year was no where near the Daley of the previous year. However, if you compare them to Hunwick your point is taken.

        Consider this too Rick, the Pens rarely played with a full compliment of players last year, The number of games that Crosby, Malkin, Bonino, and Cullen all played was not that great, quite often one or more of them were out of the lne-up, yet they still won. Last year, even with Letang on the shelf for the remainder of the season and Daley also injured, Ruhwedel and other WBS guys still got the job done.

        Even Kunitz missed many games and during the regular season showed his age. True, once the play-offs started he was his usual beat self, but during the regular season he was definitely not a top 9 winger.

        No, this team really isn’t that much different, from the players last year. The game time line-ups were liberally sprinkled with WBS kids. That is why I am convinced that we brought in the wrong new players and are stifling the growth of our kids. If the team is going to get spanked 10-1, I would rather Kids like Sprong, Aston-Reese, Johnson, and Bengtsson be cutting their teeth rather than Reaves and Hunwick masquerading as Penguins.

        • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
          October 6, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

          Hey Other Rick,

          Great thoughts, as always.

          The point I’m trying to make is, it takes an optimal blend of players, personalities and attributes to win a Stanley Cup, which is what our Pens were blessed to have the past couple of seasons. While your point about injuries and call-ups is well taken, the core of the team remained essentially the same.

          Alter that mix, even a little, and you no longer have what it takes to be a champion. It’s part of the reason you don’t see teams win the Cup year after year after year. And it’s why us winning back-to-back Cups truly was a monumental achievement.

          Back to your comments. Bob Errey mentioned the Pens are missing guys like Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist, and I agree. Reaves aside, they don’t have much sand. To that end, I’d like to see Aston-Reese called up. His game is a little more pro ready than the others, and we need someone who’ll bump and grind and compete for pucks…and have a little attitude while doing it.

          Like you, I really liked what I saw of Johnson in preseason. My guess is, they want to be careful and afford him at least some developmental time with the Baby Pens. The same goes for Sprong and Bengtsson.


        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          October 6, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

          Hey Rick,

          I hear your argument about bringing Sprong, Johnson, and Bengtsson along gently and maybe you are right. Sometimes, throwing kids into the fray can hurt their growth. Of course the opposite is true too, sometimes babying players too long hurt their development. It makes it a tough call.

          However, in the case of Sprong, Johnson, Aston-Reese, and Bengtsson, none of these kids really are truly those 18-19 year old kids anymore; Sprong is the youngest at age 20, the other 3 are 23 years old. They really aren’t kids. They aren’t really going to develop much more than they are now. They are pretty much in their prime physically and waiting too much longer then declining physical ability will off set any further improvement in experience. At best, you can only wait 1 more season on them and then move on. Well, maybe a little longer on D, they do take a little longer to develop, but even then, the click is ticking on them.

          If you are willing to throw in the towel for this season, Rick, if I were you, I would start looking to trade Hornqvist and Cole now before they jump at the end of the year and maybe get some draft picks. Maybe even get that first pick and grab that Swedish D-man, Rasmus Dahlin.

          • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
            October 6, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

            Hey Other Rick,

            Maybe I’m stubborn, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. I just feel the Pens need to resist the urge to panic, while making prudent decisions with their kids. Even if this does turn out to be a transition year of sorts.

            And I’m reminded that in four of our five Cup seasons (last year being the exception), we overcame a heap of early adversity … 🙂


          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            October 6, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

            Hey Rick,

            I am not ready to throw in the towel yet either, but I do think it is time to make changes while there still is time. There was a report at the beginning of the season stating that the Pens have the fewest games down the stretch run of all teams in the league making every game at the beginning of the season that much more important. The Pens will need to trade for, sign, bring up players, or wave a magic wand and improve the play of the players here real fast.

            And considering the number of Back-to-Back games, the most in the league, 19, or as you noted almost half of their games (38 of 82) back-to-back, they truly need 4 quality lines. Crosby-Guentzel-Sheary really were weak last night from (Crosby 23:39) all of the ice time they played the night before.

            Not only do they need 4 quality lines but could use a couple of reserve players to shuffle in and out for all of these nightmare back-to-back games.

            This season will really test the depth and character of the organization.

  5. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    October 6, 2017 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    Ouch! that is an understatement! I thought Halloween was at the end of the month. I thought I was watching one of the many sequels to “A Nightmare on Elm Street”!

    Opponents skate with impunity through the defensive zone. The back door is always wide open. I couldn’t watch anymore after it went to 7 to 1.

    All this talk about a third line Center but the Pens D are totally befuddled. I have said it several times before, Schultz – Maatta combination is a bad pairing. They didn’t look good at all in the preseason when they were going against many AHL players, so what makes anyone think they would look good against NHL opponents (-5?). Schultz and Cole looked great last year, why are they not together?

    The Pens won games regularly with Ruhwedel in the line-up, they are 0-1-1 giving up 15 goals with Hunwick in the line-up!

    I was not a big fan of this particular roster when the Pens decided to try and start the season on it but I was willing to give the team a chance, after all I said, JR and Sully have won multiple Cups. Maybe the team can tweak a couple of things and make this roster work out, but it may be time to realize that some of the kids in WBS are better than some of the players on this current roster!

    I would love to see a Duchene or a Athanasiou on the team, but the way the team’s D is non-existent, maybe my idea of going after Markov before he went to the KHL, it would appear he would have been a better FA signing than Hunwick, Maybe Zaripov too?

    I hope this team is embarrassed enough to make a change, last night was a nightmare,

  6. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    October 6, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Ouch ?? Ouch !!! It was more like heeelllpppp ! The score could have easily been 15 to 1 Rick. The other guys let up. Did not want to embarrass us to much.
    Many concerns last night…But for me…Crosby,Sheary and Guentzel .Jake had 1 shot on goal. Connor had 1 shot on goal.Sid had 5 and so did Letang. Did not matter Rick. The Hawks owned that line last night. When your third and fourth lines are weak to begin with, you need your top line to pick it up. Did not happen last night.
    I thought exhibition games were where you where supposed to work this stuff out !!
    Lets give the Hawks their due. Last night is a wake up call BOYS !! There are at least 10 other teams in this league that can light you up like the Hawks did last night for a joke and it will not matter who is playing in net !!

    I am really glad this happened Rick… As a Pen’s fan we needed this butt kicking. NOW maybe people will realize that a THREE PEAT is not a for gone conclusion !!
    Lets go Pen’s 🙂

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      October 6, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      I started my Comment’s a long time ago but work interrupted me, so I didn’t see your comment until after I posted my comment. but you are right, the Pens top line was destroyed last night, but then again what do you expect at the back end of back-to-back games when your 4th line was non-existent at the front end and your top line center had to play over 20 minutes because of that. I am not a fan of excuses but reality is reality; Crosby shouldn’t have to play 23 minutes a game. His blind drop pass just inside the blue line directly led to the 4th goal, the goal that finally chased Niemi. Schultz lost his edge and fell right out of the play trying to reach back for the bad pass.

      Sorry, but I really think that at least 2 or more of the following should be on the team now; Sprong, Aston-Reese, Johnson, or Bengtsson.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        October 6, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Hey Coach
        I am a little biased because I have seen him play live, but I definitely think Sprong should be dressed. As far Aston-Reese goes it will only be “when” not ” if ” he plays this year in Pittsburgh. This really is sad to say because he should play a full season in the AHL to let him develop properly. Another point, you and I usually agree on is size. Sheary got pushed around to much last night . It is one thing to chase the puck but at some time you have to retrieve it. Just saying.
        Great points you raise as always Coach.

        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          October 6, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

          Agreed Jim,

          I like Sheary but there is a reason why the David and Goliath story is such a great one, it rarely, rarely happens. To all of the Sheary fans out there, again, I like him, but I would have already tried to trade him before his stock drops too much. He did score 20 odd goals last year, so they could have conceivably gotten something for him.

          At this point, my preference for players, baring a trade would be sign Zaripov and then go like this;

          Crosby – Guentzel – Sprong
          Malkin – Zaripov -Aston Reese (Hornqvist)
          Johnnson – Hagelin – Kessel
          McKegg – Kuhnhackl – Rust

          with Rowney and Wilson my reserves

          On D

          Domoulin – Letang
          Cole – Schultz
          Maatta – Ruhwedel

          with Tinordi or Pedan as my reserve LD and Bengtsson the RD.
          But I would only bring up Bengtsson in situations were one of the top 3 RD were injured.

          But then again, I don’t like fence sitting, am a gambler, and hate playing not to lose. I hate to grab players who never have done anything of importance and play them just because they are veterans. To me that is the lamest excuse. If, by the age of 28 or 30 you haven’t distinguished yourself as anything other than a fighter, I don’t see the need to have you around. There are plenty of young guns ready and fearlessly chomping at the bit to prove themselves.

          As I most recently stated, there is at least some truth to the idea of that doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results is at best silly. Expecting 28 – 30 year old players to somehow or another become viable championship contenders is about the same as expecting a 5″-8″ player to become a 50 goal scorer in a league rife with D-men well over 6′-0″ and heavier than 220lbs.

          As I said elsewhere on Rick’s post, I am not ready to throw in the towel on this season. I do think that with a few personnel changes, this team can still 3-peat, but the window will close rapidly if management doesn’t act swiftly.

        • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
          October 6, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

          Hey guys,

          With all due respect, I’m not ready to jump on the Daniel Sprong bandwagon, at least not with both feet.

          When I watched him in preseason, he spent a fair amount of time aimlessly skating in circles, awaiting a set up. A common trait among natural scorers, I suppose. And there’s no questioning his shot, skill or nose for the net.

          Still, I’d like to see a little more compete in his game before I promote him. The last thing the Pens need right now is another guy who plays on the perimeter, scoring touch or not.


          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            October 6, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

            Hey Rick,

            I hear what you are saying but when you are toiling away in the minors where your speed, skating, and scoring touch is above at least half the league, it is a whole lot easier to sit around on your haunches, knowing full well that you can make up the gap and scoring in a matter of seconds rather than being forced to realize that the talent gap between players isn’t so wide. Some lessons have to be learned the hard way and not in the minors. Part of the reason I think Sundqvist never made it was because he spent too much of his young career with wannabes, never will be s, and has been s. There are somethings you can only learn when you put your big boy pants on. If Sprong doesn’t learn those things, then move on.

            Also, what is the difference between Sprong’s occasional lapses (if he really does have them) and Sheary just getting man handled. In the end the results are the same.

            Let Sprong find out what he really needs to do by really playing with the big dogs on a line with Crosby, where he will also have more than a little chance of success and spoon feeding him in a league where some laziness on his part will not hurt anyone, since the talent isn’t that deep.

            We do think a lot a like, Rick, on many issues but here is one of those few we diverge.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      October 6, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Amen, Jim.

      Even though you never want to see your team lose like this, in an odd, upside down sort of way it may be just what the doctor ordered.

      Put another way, if Mike Sullivan was having trouble getting the team’s attention, he surely won’t now.



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