Pens Vs Devils Grades
Even Strength Offense: F
Ugly, ugly, ugly. Six periods of hockey, and zero even strength goals over the weekend. This really isnâ€™t much of a surprise, though. When you play a team three times in nine days, it becomes like a playoff series. And we all know how well Jack Adams adjusts in the playoffs. he doesnâ€™t. The Pens did have a few good chances early on last night, but the rest of the game and the weekend was yet another case of a well-schooled defensive team just stifling the Pensâ€™ attack. And it was similar to other playoff debacles. let the Pens shoot from the outside and then prevent them from getting to the net. And donâ€™t allow transition, as that is the only time the Pens are dangerous.
Even Strength Defense: D
Bad blue line pinches (i.e., trying to force offense when itâ€™s not there) led to the first two goals. First, Engelland got caught in no-manâ€™s land and never got back in the play on Clarksonâ€™s first goal. Then Martin got caught, leaving Orpik to defend a 2-on-1 against Kovalpunk. That led to a predictable result.
Power Play: B
That might be generous. They had two power plays when the game was in doubt and they were the usual momentum-sapping dreck that weâ€™ve come to expect. So much for Martin being better than Letang on the top unit. Neal did manage to pop one in once the game was out of reach (yes, down three or even two against the Devils is out of reach).
Penalty Kill: F
Amazing. They maintained their discipline and took only one penalty all night. Bang, itâ€™s in the net.
That last goal was a killer and it was totally on Vokoun. He just totally lost sight of the puck and let it lay in the crease for Clarkson to tap it in. And I thought he really looked shaky all night. Not what you want in a battle of the backups where you would think the Pens have the advantage.
Well, at least they tried last night. Unfortunately, as has been proven three years in a row, they are saddled with a system that simply doesnâ€™t work once teams adjust to it. But we never change a thing, because Jack Adams thinks Pittsburgh Penguin Ice Hockey is the only possible way to play the game. This so totally reminded me of the Montreal and Tampa series, where the Pens storm the net for the first few minutes and pile up lots of shots with nothing to show for it. Then the other team just waits for them to get frustrated and force the issue. They do, and bam, itâ€™s in our net. The other team gets stellar-looking goaltending because we donâ€™t dare go in front because somebody might hit us (Iâ€™m looking at you, Geno). Then the other team comes down and gets wide open looks right in front and puts them in. Do I have it about right?
And now, the rest of the storyâ€¦
Two games, zero points. Thereâ€™s your best player being your best player. To be fair, he is saddled with Dupuis, and Iâ€™d get tired, too, carrying his sorry ass on my back.
Another game, another zilch at even strength. Funny how playing in Russia hasnâ€™t affected Kovalchuk or Datsyuk, eh?
James Neal: C
The power play specialist did what he does. But he was also invisible at even strength.
If this empty sweater is not on waivers today, then Shero is descending into Milbury territory as a GM. Iâ€™d rather see Bennett up than see them keep spinning their wheels with this piece of trash. How anyone with even an iota of talent could play six games with Neal and Malkin and garner nary a point is almost mind-boggling. Then again, that is also the case for Tangradi and Jeffrey, so maybe that line just stinks no matter who is on it.
Jack Adams: F
Playoff hockey, bay-bee. Once again, he is outcoached by someone able to make adjustments on the fly as he stands there dumbfounded behind the bench that his genius system isnâ€™t destroying the opposition. These two games further buttress my opinion that he should have been canned after last yearâ€™s playoff debacle. His team is simply incapable of playing sound systematic hockey when the chips are down. I think it would be totally appropriate if Shero fired him on the anniversary of his hiring, which would be Friday.
It was a well-called game.
He nailed Volchenkov.
Iâ€™m on Twitter.
A guide to the game grades can be found here.