FF Telestrator: Rangers Nightmare Edition
The Penguins have been out-scored 10-2 in their last two contests and appear to have completely gotten out of the rhythm they were in during their 15 game win streak.
The biggest issue that has plagued the Penguins over the course of the last two games have been work ethic and attention to detail. While losing these two team wide attributes against a basement team of the conference might not kill you, playing against teams fighting for their post-season lives will.
The good news is, we know this isn’t who the Penguins are. The question is, how quickly can they snap out of it. Being in front of the home crowd against the Rangers again on Friday is key to me. Last night on 105.9 the X, Phil Bourque said it’s not how you lose, it’s how you respond to losing.
Expect to see a different Penguins team on the ice Friday. For now, let’s review what happened last night.
Let’s start with the goal by Ryan McDonough. As was mentioned on NBC Sports Network last night, McDonough gets about an acre of real estate to deal with here. Let’s take a look at how this play developed.
The entire play starts here. This is what on-ice awareness is all about. The blue line is representative of the path that McDonough is going to take to the net. Tanner Glass is going to follow his man into the corner. Brendan Morrow is at the top of the defensive zone, and you can see in this clip his line of sight is directly on the puck.
Field of vision kills the Penguins when they play poorly. This isn’t a heads up play by Morrow. He needs to be aware of who is streaking into the zone.
McDonough has time to stop, set up a table and chairs, and make a pot of coffee here. Douglas Murray was out of the play along the wall, but Joe Vitale comes down low and does a really great job of taking the man going to the net.
Brendan Morrow starts to engage on McDonough after this pass is made. There’s no chance he’ll get there in time. He got caught watching the puck, and when he realized what was happening, it was too late.
It’s asking a lot of your goaltender to make a save on a good scoring defenseman uncontested in the slot. This is the most high percentage scoring area on the ice. The Rangers may not score many goals, but when you give a team chances and looks like this one, you’re playing with fire.
Let’s take a look at the third goal scored by Ryan Clowe. This is an instance of Clowe wanting it more than anyone else.
The play starts right here. This is the first loss for the Penguins.
We know that Clowe eventually bumps Orpik off the puck to score. There’s no real need to look at that again.
But right here, at the start of this play, you have a loos puck that’s corralled by Orpik.
Stepan immediately jumps on his horse and gets a stick on a loose puck battle and forces Orpik to retreat into the defensive zone.
This stick on puck play comes off of an instance where Orpik could have gotten this puck out of the zone and lived to fight another day. Sutter coasts through the defensive zone while this breakdown happens and cannot get back quick enough to make a play.
Here’s the key takeaway here. The Penguins weren’t doing these things on this win streak. They approached every shift with their workboots on and a physical approach.
Let’s look at the penalty kill for a second.
All year long we’ve telestrated the differences between the Penguins success on the penalty kill and their failures on the penalty kill.
The main difference we’ve highlighted is aggression and a take away of time and space.
Look at the area the Rangers have up high here.
They also have three blue shirts down low around the net. The Penguins only have two.
Tanner Glass doesn’t prevent this shot, and he doesn’t come back to help the defensemen in front of the net. There is a red sea type void in several areas of the ice here.
The shot hits the player in front, who Orpik has body position on anyway. Douglas Murray is doing his thing in front of the net, and he’s doing it well.
The sprawled out Ranger is going to prevent Orpik from getting to the front of the net.
Take a look at the posture of Tanner Glass. He’s a passenger on this play.
But here’s the key. Look where Matt Cooke is. He’s standing right next to Brassard. He has the body position to make a play. Brassard doesn’t move from the spot he’s in. Watch what happens next.
Matt Cooke actually drifts backwards away from Brassard and gives his man up completely. Brassard is so open that he actually has the time to lower his posture, get position on the puck, and roof a backhander top shelf.
Here’s Fleury’s view. Look at how far Matt Cooke is away from this play, as well as Tanner Glass. Four white jerseys right around the front of the net and not a single one of them makes contact with the guy who has the puck right between the circles.
Two times today we’ve reviewed a play where a Ranger player had the puck in the slot and ripped a shot off uncontested.
Let’s take a look at the fifth goal.
If you want a good barometer of how the Penguins penalty kill is feeling, look at the gap they keep at the top of the ice. Craig Adams normally does a really good job of anticipating plays and providing a disruption on the power play, in this instance, he goes from a stand alone position in the middle of the ice to watching a cross-ice feed go by without getting to the area.
Orpik shuffles over to make a play after the shot is taken, and finds himself right next to Douglas Murray, who just blocked the shot. Sutter is late coming back, and the Rangers tap home an empty netter.
The entire team owes Marc-Andre Fleury dinner.
Again, expect the Penguins to rebound. They didn’t win 15 games in a row by accident. They just need to get back to the things that made them successful during the streak.
Friday’s game against the Rangers in Consol is going to tell you a lot about the April version of the Pittsburgh Penguins.