The Penguins broke their 7-game losing streak on Wednesday, beating the Capitals 4-1. With this win, the Penguins now have their first win since October 22nd, which was a 6-3 win versus CBJ. The Pens now sit seventh in the Metropolitan Division with a 5-6-2 record.
As much as I have regained my confidence in this team after their win, it is still one win in their past eight games. Today we look at why this team has struggled so badly lately.
#1: Bottom Six
The bottom six was a big question mark heading into this season, and it’s no question why now. Besides Danton Heinen, the entire rest of the bottom six have not been good, especially Kasperi Kapanen. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how this problem can be fixed. It seems to be something the coaches and players will have to figure out on their own
#2: Playing A Full Game
The Penguins have a habit of playing one or two good periods, but one period horribly, and that bad period is the one that screws them. The Penguins did have this same problem last year, and it seems like the Pens have carried this problem to this year. It’s a problem that the Penguins did fix against the Caps, but they need to be consistent on it if they want to win more games.
#3: Brian Dumoulin
Dumoulin has been the Pens’ worst player so far this season, in my opinion. The Pens have helped this problem by putting him on the third pairing. Trading him would be very hard to do with his contract, so putting him on the third pairing is the best way the Pens can solve this problem.
#4: Special Teams
The Penguins’ special teams are one of the worst in the league. Their powerplay looks like a lost kid in a grocery store and has zero structure. Their penalty kill looked better against the Caps, which is somewhat good. Teddy Blueger is also expected to return soon, which should help improve the PK.
#5: Lineup Consistency
The Penguins made big lineup changes, especially to their defensive pairs, before the game against the Capitals. The Penguins seem to be keeping the same lineup against the Leafs, so I believe Mike Sullivan has finally settled on a lineup that he has confidence in for the time being.
#6: Jeff Petry
I liked this addition when we made it, and I still believe in him finding this game, but he’s looking worse every game. He’s been terrible defensively and hasn’t been too good offensively either (although he did score against the Caps). However, I’ll give him some time because it is still early in the year.
As much as the goaltending hasn’t been terrible, they haven’t been too good. The defense hasn’t helped in this case either, as we know. Although Tristan Jarry hasn’t been terrible, starting Casey DeSmith worked against the Caps, and Sullivan wants to see if it works again as DeSmith is getting the start tonight against the Leafs.
The Penguins looked pretty solid overall on Wednesday, and if they can bring that improved play that we saw them have tonight, then I believe that this team can turn this around and get back to their winning ways.
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