Pens Pointers #14

Anthony DeSimone

The boy who cried wolf has been the recent mentality of the Pittsburgh Penguins when it comes to penalties over their last few games.

The Penguins have scored one goal while giving up nine to their opponents, which has resulted in three straight losses for the team. Additionally, the Pens have racked up a total of 76 penalty minutes over those same three games, while their opposition has only had 20 penalty minutes.

This combination of not scoring goals and a blatant lack of discipline have caused the Penguins to fall further behind the New York Rangers in the divisional race and closer to a wildcard spot in the playoffs. The standings are as follows (updated as up 1:00 p.m. Thursday):

New York Rangers           95 Points

New York Islanders         90 Points

Pittsburgh Penguins       88 Points

——————————————– Wild Card

Washington Capitals       86 Points

Boston Bruins                     83 Points

——————————————– In the Hunt

Ottawa Senators              79 Points

Florida Panthers               76 Points


If the Pens cannot clean up their act, get pucks to the net, and play a strong 60 minute hockey game, they will find themselves sitting in a wildcard seat very soon.

Let’s face it, one of the biggest reasons that the Penguins have struggled over these last three games is because they are constantly sitting in the penalty box. All hockey teams take penalties, but there is no reason that the Pens should have had 62 penalty minutes in a single game and five players sitting in the penalty box at one time. It is impossible to win a hockey game if a team is constantly shorthanded and that is what has happened to the Penguins recently.

Additionally, taking frustrations out on referees is not a good way to win a hockey game. Most fans saw how the Penguins treated the referees in their 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings last weekend. In fact, that poor treatment toward the officials was probably a contributing factor when it came to the game against New Jersey Devils.

In this 2-0 loss on Monday, there were no power play opportunities for the Penguins even though there were a few instances where a penalty could have been called. One instance that should have been a definite penalty against the Devils was when Kris Letang was tripped up in the final minute of the third period. However, there was no call and the Devils proceeded to score an empty net goal to solidify their victory.

My thought on penalties and referees is similar to the concept of the boy who cried wolf. When players constantly bark at referees and ask why something wasn’t a penalty, they do not get the call they are looking for. How often do we see Steve Downie yell at the referees when they make a call against him? His strategy clearly hasn’t worked because he leads league in penalty minutes with 221 this season.

On the other hand, look at players who do not get upset after every whistle and look at the referees when something happens. When these players stand up and get upset, referees tend to take a second look at what happened because these players are not known for being that upset over something that happened.

A perfect example of this was in the game against the Red Wings. Petr Mrazek, the goaltender for the Red Wings, stood up and flailed his glove and stick at the referee when the Penguins scored a goal on him in the second period. Even though the Penguins had gone down the bench line to celebrate, Mrazek continued to plead his case with the referees. This caused them to go review the goal and eventually overturn the play deeming there was Mrazek was interfered with by Patric Hornqvist.

If the Penguins want to start having calls go in their favor, they need to stop complaining to the referees for every little thing that happens on the ice and simply focus on playing the game. The game is not who can shout the loudest at the referees, the game is which team and outplay and outscore the other team.

With that said, The Penguins are in Dallas tonight as they will faceoff against the Stars tonight. The Stars really do not have anything to play for either than spoiler because they are in last place in the Central Division with a record of 32-28-10 (74 points).

Hopefully the Penguins will be able to get all their gears rolling tonight against a struggling team so they can avoid falling into a wildcard spot.