One and done; that seems to be the motto of the Pittsburgh Penguins as they have lost three games in a row this week and have only scored one goal in each game.
The Penguins have suffered three losses in a row to the Chicago Blackhawks, Washington Capitals and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Though all three losses were close, the Penguins honestly have not looked good in any of the three games.
The team is losing battles in the defensive zone, over-passing the puck, taken too many penalties, and still have not scored a power play goal this month. The Penguins have now gone 0-20 on the power play in February. In fact, the only goal scored on the power play was a short-handed goal by the Blue Jackets last night.
Additionally, there seems to be no visible emotions on the Penguins bench. Players are not talking and the coaches seem to just be standing behind them as if they were statues. This lack of emotion is reflected on the ice because the Penguins seem as if they are just skating around on the ice with no sense of urgency or emotion. This can easily explain why they have only been able to put the puck in the back of the net once in each game this week.
This lack of emotion and winning is surely frustrating the players and the coaches, especially because they have now fallen to fourth place in the Metropolitan Division. They are now one point behind the Capitals and Rangers, and are six points behind the first-place New York Islanders.
This recent three game losing streak and the team’s poor performance on the power play has really stirred up the emotions of their fans as well. After their 2-1 loss to the Blue Jackets last night, the Penguins Facebook page was riddled with critical comments from fans.
The majority of the comments were about how Crosby is not playing very well, that the power play is pass happy, that Kunitz is “washed up” and should be traded, and that Mike Johnston is not fit to be a coach in the NHL. Below are some of the harshest ones that fans posted:
“Finding new ways to fail every game.”
“It’s time to hit the panic button on this team.”
“This team is a joke!”
“Lookin’ pretty leafy out there.” (Referring to the Toronto Maple Leafs who have gone 1-12-2 in their last 15 games)
“Ugh, Fleury might be the only guy who shows up anyone.”
It is clearly evident that Pens fans are frustrated with how the team has played during the month of February. However, that last comment brings up a good point. Marc-Andre Fleury has been stellar despite the team struggling. These last three games could have easily been blowout losses if it was not for Fleury being in the net for the Penguins.
He has been making impeccable saves and fighting off penalties so that he can keep his team in the game each night. Sadly though, it takes the whole team to win a hockey game and it’s frustrating to see a player like Fleury put in valiant efforts each night only to see his team in the loss column.
Either way, what’s done is done and the players and fans should not look back at the losses. Instead, everyone needs to be looking forward to this weekend. The Penguins have two games that will hopefully get them back on the winning track.
The Penguins will travel to St. Louis to face the Blues Saturday night and then will travel back home for their Sunday night matchup against the Florida Panthers. The Blues are in second place in the Central Division with a record of 37-16-4 (78 points). Meanwhile, the Panthers are in fifth place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 26-19-12 (64 points).
Hopefully, the Penguins will be able to win at least one of these games this weekend so that they can get off their losing streak and give themselves something to build on as they move further into the season. Additionally, the Penguins need the points so that they can keep up in the divisional race with Islanders, Capitals and Rangers.
Personally, I would not say that the wheels have come off the bus in Pittsburgh; I would say that they are currently dealing with a flat tire… or two.