Worst month in over a year, Pens @ Bruins tonight

A new year will hopefully bring a fresh start and better attitude for the Pittsburgh Penguins.  That’s what all of their fans are hoping for.

pitbos

Pittsburgh Penguins (19-4-4, 42 pts.) vs. Boston Bruins (28-5-4, 60 pts.)

The Pens play in Boston tonight after being embarrassed by that same team at home on Tuesday night, 5-2.  Things seem like they can’t get much worse for this team after completing its worst month of hockey since Nov. of 2007.  That month the Pens went 5-7-1, one loss away from this December’s putrid mark of 5-8-1.

After Tuesday’s loss, a game that started so well and finished so horribly, the team held a players-only meeting.  No one knows what was said in the locker room but one thing is for sure: it better have registered throughout the team.

Pittsburgh knew it had to stay out of the box, yet it played undisciplined.  It knew it had to take advantage of power play opportunities, yet it was overly predictable.  Yes, I think we all had gripes with the officiating, but that’s just a copout.  This team’s focus is skewed and Michel Therrien pointed that out after the game…

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien reacts to the final goal scored by the Boston Bruins in an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008. The Bruins won 5-2. At left on bench is Pascal Dupuis, and at right is Petr Sykora, of the Czech Republic. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien reacts to the final goal scored by the Boston Bruins in an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008. The Bruins won 5-2. At left on bench is Pascal Dupuis, and at right is Petr Sykora, of the Czech Republic. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

“We’ve got to start thinking about the team concept, not personal agendas,” he said. “Let’s start from there. Team concept is the most important thing for any hockey team.

“Personal agendas, goals on the list of priorities for players should be the last one. Right now, the priority is not in the right place.”

That seems to be an indirect shot to the team leaders, i.e. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.  Whether that was Therrien’s intention or not, the two of them need to get together with the other “leaders” on the team and get this thing figured out.

And that’s likely how the meeting went.

If you can’t get the entire locker room to buy in to the system then you’re a team that’s going nowhere.  This isn’t just the case for the Pens, but for any NHL team.

Boston is so successul because they execute their style of play very well and everyone on the ice knows what to expect.  This isn’t there for the Pens.

So many times you see a player throw the puck to a space where he thinks his teammate is … and no one is there.  We didn’t see too much of that happening last season.  It’s not something that just clicks immediately either, so the Pens need to get on it now and rectify these problems before they find themselves missing the playoffs.

Currently, the Pens have 42 points and are one point ahead of Carolina for eighth and just two points ahead of Buffalo for ninth.  Getting two points tonight is, as it has been the last few weeks, crucial.

The idea is the same as it was on Tuesday: shoot the puck, get the first goal, eliminate mistakes.

Advantages:

Forwards: Boston.

Defensemen: Boston.

Goaltending: Boston.

Special Teams: Boston.

Prediction:

Boston wins, 4-2.

Chris | PPT

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