Monday, January 5, 2009

Another day, another terrible Pens game

Surprise surprise the Penguins crapped the bed yet again. I know that the common spiel in town of late has been to absolve Mikey Therrien of wrongdoing, and while I was agreeing with that for a while, my feelings are starting to sway after watching this team tonight.

I came home a little late, but figured that since I was only about 10 minutes late I wouldn't have missed anything. OF COURSE NOT! The Rangers were up 1-zip already and I promptly changed the channel. I just couldn't deal with it. I kept an eye on the box score on ESPN.com and decided to flip back at the start of the 2nd period, thinking maybe a fresh start to a period would help me. Well, I didn't change the channel this time but it certainly wasn't any prettier.

The Pens were playing sloppy, taking penalties (Sid had 4 PIM in the second period!) and just generally looked like they were ready to call it a game already. They managed to survive for a while, but the Rangers inevitably got up 2-0 late in the second.

I strongly considered switching after the second, because I could just tell there was no way the Pens were coming back. But I was curious to see how they would respond against a frequent opponent/rival in a desperate situation, so I stayed tuned in, and was treated to 20 more minutes of revolting hockey.

The third period saw the Rangers mostly just play conservative and go into a shell, and the Pens were quite obviously not at all interested in taking advantage of this in any way, shape, or form. They mustered just 7 shots in the third period and were shut out by King Henrik.

But back to Therrien. I'm not saying its time to string up the noose that, if it isn't tightening, is at least placed gently around his neck at this point. What I am saying is that, if the Pens continue in this free-fall, people in this town need to stop giving him a hall pass. The coach of a team with this much talent at the top should be held to a much higher standard.

The Pens have shown very little passion or fire of late. Sure they have shown signs of frustration (the fighting), but this has not been the spark that it should be. Instead, someone just fights and the rest of the team stands around watching for a few seconds and goes back to playing crappy hockey. This is just unacceptable.

And its not like its just that the team isn't responding to Therrien, some of these moves he's making in the lineup are headscratchers. I've long hated the lets-put-a-defender-in-as-a-forward idea that Therrien has used in the past and has used of late. Just because we have too many defensemen that all feel they should be playing does not mean they HAVE to be playing. To be honest, I don't think anyone on this squad has the right to demand anything right now. And certainly, on a team that can barely score a goal right now, I don't think adding more defenders to the lineup helps at all.

And while we're on the subject of the defenders, after an embarassing offensive performance, why does Therrien go and scratch Alex Goligoski tonight? Uhmm... Mikey, Go-go has been by far our best offensive defenseman so far this season (it really isn't even close in my opinion), and for a team that is badly missing Sergei Gonchar's offensive presence, it is the ultimate stupidity to scratch your best offensive defenseman. Just an indefensible move by a coach obviously grasping at straws.

Speaking of grasping at straws...how does the pull-the-goalie-with-4-minutes-left strategy make any sense? Has it ever worked. I know they were down 3-zip and out of the game at that point, but I can't see how that 6th skater was really worth it. Again, just a move that is reeking of desperation from a coach that clearly thinks his head is on the chopping block.

Look, I'm not saying this tailspin is Therrien's fault. No, it goes much, much deeper than that. But it seems to me that Therrien is coaching like a desperate man and is making a bad situation much worse with moves that just don't make a whole lot of sense. If this keeps up, I don't see the Penguins have many options except to make their own move of desperation: a head coaching change.

2 comments:

John said...

Tell you what, when they fire Crosby, that's when I'll agree to fire Therrien. Crosby is the captain of this team, yet he's taking all sorts of penalty minutes, still refusing to shoot when this team needs a goal-scorer, and just isn't playing very good hockey right now. Yeah there are guys playing worse, but it all starts with him

Ryan said...

Woah, take it easy there Johnny cakes. Sidney Crosby is one of the 3 most talented hockey players on the planet. I won't debate that much. Is he playing at his best right now? No not really. But he's still he's an amazing hockey player and to even suggest the Pens should try to get rid of him is probably the single dumbest thing you could suggest.