Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defeat Follows Old Script Familiar Problems Plague Penguins

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defeat Follows Old Script Familiar Problems Plague Penguins

Article excerpt

If the Penguins' loss Saturday night felt strangely familiar, well, it probably should.

It's a script they've followed far too frequently through the first 22 games of the season.

Take too many penalties. Don't kill enough of the opposing teams' power-play opportunities. Fail to convert your chances.

Add it up, and you get a 2-1 defeat at PPG Paints Arena, the Penguins' first on home ice this season, an outcome that's not the least bit surprising given the ingredients contained therein.

"We both had chances," Olli Maatta said. "It could have went either way. A couple mistakes cost us. We have to be better at the penalty kill. That's a big thing."

Maatta hit the nail on the head with that one.

This marks four times in the past five games the Penguins' penalty kill has allowed two goals in a game. For the season, it has tumbled to 77.3 percent, which is bottom-five-in-the-league bad.

"We can't continue to give up a goal or two goals on the penalty kill night in and night out and expect to win," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

So, how do they correct it?

Listen to Penguins players and coaches talk, and aggressiveness comes up a lot. In the context that, when they're not aggressive enough, they suffer.

We saw it Thursday in Ottawa early. Coaches and players had a meeting at first intermission, then the Penguins improved drastically during a second-period kill.

No such luck against Chicago.

Gustav Forsling and Artem Anisimov scored power-play goals - Forsling off a faceoff, Anisimov potting a rebound - and Sullivan said the unit lacked any semblance of urgency.

"It's attention to detail," Sullivan said. "It's working together. But for me, it starts with a level of urgency that we don't have right now."

How do you get said urgency?

Well, trading for Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen and Ron Hainsey is probably out of the question, and it's a little tough to think that a player plucked from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is going to cure the Penguins' ills on the kill.

Reality and Sullivan both say the solution starts with assessing the film, figuring out what they're doing wrong and correcting it, with a few players functioning with a healthy fear of a trade or decreased role. …

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