“We weren’t playing that bad until we got the lead, 3-1. After that, we were horrible.”
Buffalo 4 – Pittsburgh 3
That’s what the Pittsburgh Penguins’ head coach Michel Therrien said after his team blew another lead to the Buffalo Sabres (13-11-3), this time 3-1 in the second period, to eventually lose 4-3.
“It was a horrible performance. That’s the truth,” he added.
A major contributor to the loss was the power play. The Pens (15-8-4) went a putrid 1-for-8 with at least a man-advantage. Three of the power play chances came with two Sabres in the box.
When you blow chances like that, you deserve to lose. And, as I said in the game preview, if you can’t protect a lead then it doesn’t matter how many goals you score.
The Penguins do have an inexperienced defensive corps and a goalie that wasn’t supposed to be an everyday starter. However, the biggest flaws for the Pens came from their leadership.
Ben Lovejoy, who was called up for the game in place of Hal Gill, played very well. He made the safe plays and stayed out of trouble.
It was Brooks Orpik that made boneheaded plays that led to two Buffalo goals. Fanning on a pass and over-pursuing a man led to two goals for the Sabres, the second of which was the game-winner.
With the loss the Penguins have dropped six of their last 10 games, going 4-4-2. The loss makes it two straight, the first multiple-game losing streak since dropping two game on the west coast at the end of October.
While they have gone through this stretch they have lucked out, seeing the New York Rangers go 5-5-0 in their last ten. However, Philadelphia (7-1-2) and New Jersey (7-3-0) are creeping up in the standings.
The team has hit an obvious rut and it seems the only thing that can pull them out of it is perserverence. Ryan Whitney and Serei Gonchar are recovering, but are still far from returning.
Therefore, it is up the leaders that are present on the team to step up. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are doing their part, but that’s where the line seems to end.
It’s got to come from other areas as well … and on a consistent basis.