Pittsburgh Penguins Didn’t Give Enough In Loss To New York Rangers


Nov 11, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis (26) scores a goal past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Full disclosure: I was unfocused and distracted at work Tuesday, and I didn’t get much accomplished. I don’t know why I was that way, but it wasn’t the best day at the office.

The Pittsburgh Penguins did their best impression of me against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, at least from the start. However, unlike the relative anonymity of my existence, the Pens had a regional television audience looking on as they attempted to ease into their workday.

Although I think the 5-0 score Tuesday night flattered the Rangers, as New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist expertly kept the margin wider than it should’ve been, the Penguins (10-3-1, 21 points) clearly deserved to lose because of the passive way they came out of the dressing room.

Is there an excuse for that? Probably not, even if it was Game 14 out of 82 in the middle of November. I would’ve imagined that facing the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last spring would’ve added a little extra juice to the Penguins’ veins, but that wasn’t the case until they got behind 3-0 in the first period.

Sidney Crosby and coach Mike Johnston were both highly critical of the Pens’ preparation for Tuesday’s game, so we can assume that topic was discussed in the dressing room between periods and after the final buzzer. Should we make any more of it? Not unless Pittsburgh turns in a similar no-show in the near future.

Like it or not, NHL players have to pace themselves over the course of a six-month regular season that tests both physical and mental endurance. The Penguins teetered too far over to the “relaxed” side of the spectrum Tuesday, but you can’t expect playoff intensity every time a player goes over the boards at this time of year.

Battering the Sabres on Saturday night probably didn’t help the Penguins’ readiness for the Rangers. Buffalo is barely of big-league quality at this point, so the opening shifts Tuesday likely felt like going up against the Soviet Red Army. Pittsburgh generated a few early chances against New York in the opening minutes, but the pace of the game was obviously being forced by the Blueshirts.

The Pens will face more boys in blue Friday night in Toronto, where the Maple Leafs will surely be ready to go. Hopefully the visitors will be up to speed by then.