The March of the Penguins has once again come to a crashing halt this weekend as they failed to win either of their games against the New York Islanders.
The Penguins lost Friday night 5-4 in a shootout in Pittsburgh and then lost again Saturday night 4-1 in New York. Though they were able to salvage one point out of this home-at-home series, the Penguins now find themselves tied for first place in the division with none other than the New York Islanders.
These two games showcased how, once again, the Penguins can be playing at the top of their game one night and then the next seem to just forget to show up on the ice the next night. Friday night’s game was a decent game to watch since the Pens had fought back from being down 3-1. In fact, most Penguin fans were probably happy with the team’s performance despite their loss in the shootout.
On the other hand, Saturday night’s performance was a different story. Even though the Penguins scored the first goal in the game, they did not seem to be running on all cylinders. Their passing was not on the mark, they had trouble gaining the offensive zone, and could not capitalize on the Power play opportunities they had. Additionally, Thomas Greiss did not seem too confident in front of the net either. When the Islanders would pressure in the Penguins zone, Greiss seemed to be a little too frantic.
These overall lackluster performances allowed the Islanders to comeback in the game and score four unanswered goals, win the game, and sweep the two game series.
However, the Penguin organization as a whole was more likely concerned about Pascal Dupuis than their double header this past weekend. Yes, playing the sport and winning is the number one goal of all sports teams in any league, but no one can blame any of the staff, players, or coaches for being distracted by what the doctors found was ailing Pascal Dupuis.
After complaining about some chest pain, the doctors discovered that Dupuis had developed a blood clot in his lung. This is a very serious issue because if the doctors did not find the clot, it could have become lodged in Dupuis’ heart and became a very serious or even fatal condition.
The team’s physician, Dr. Dharmesh Vyas, explained in a press conference that Dupuis must undergo at least six months of blood thinner medication and will not be allowed to participate in any contact sport until the treatment session is complete. Also during the interview, Dupuis seemed very uneasy and upset while answering questions.
Dupuis explained how this type of medical condition is not the same as getting injured on the ice. He explained how players can recover and return to the ice from in-game injuries, but this was different. Dupuis made it evident in his responses that hockey was second on his priority list at this point and that his family was what mattered most to him.
As disheartening and distracting as this news is to the Penguins, the team must re-gather themselves and prepare for their game tonight’s against the Boston Bruins. Both teams could use this win tonight as the Penguins want to regain sole leadership of the Metropolitan division and the Bruins would like to gain some ground in their division. The Bruins are currently sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division where they trail the Tampa Bay Lighting by three points and the division leading Montreal Canadiens by seven points.
With this in mind, I am expecting to see a defensive battle tonight as both of these teams are strong from their goaltenders, to their defensemen and their checkers. Look for a lower than usual score sheet in a game that features the Penguins. Also, expect a fair amount of hitting and dirty playing as these two teams are not very fond of one another.
The bottom line is this, tonight is another chance for the Penguins to showcase their rebounding abilities to both the league and their fans.