RECAP 10: Hey John, What's Your Name Again?

RECAP 10: Hey John, What's Your Name Again?


RECAP 10: Hey John, What's Your Name Again?


Some nights…some nights just ain’t ya night and last night was one of those nights.

In the first Pens-Isles game in the post-John Tavares era, it was just about everything you’d expect from a Pens-Isles game without John Tavares.

Except for the result.

The Penguanos owned the puck the entire night (60%+ share of 5v5 shot attempts, unblocked shot attempts, scoring chances, and high danger chances), but even more so in the first 30 or so minutes.  Over that stretch, the Pens limited the Islanders to just 7 shots in the first half of the game, only to be hit by goals against the run of play.

To that point, in the first period alone, the Pens registered 15 scoring chances for and allowed just 5 against at 5v5 (75% share) while going 10-3 (76.92% share) in high danger chances.  They hit a couple of posts, but managed to only be at 2-2 after 20 minutes.

heat map and all stats herein via

The lazy reaction will always be to lay this at the feet of the goaltender(s) and this was no different.  Fanning the flames was HCMS pulling Matt Murray after the 4th goal, not because of his poor play, but to try to factory reset a team that allowed their opponent unlimited odd-man rushes/2v1s.

It didn’t work.

In just under 32 minutes of play, Murr was subjected to just 9 shots against at all strengths (6 at 5v5).  Of those shots, 5 in total (3 at 5v5) came from the high danger area of the ice, as shown in the map above.  The Islanders scored 4 goals (3 at 5v5) on those high danger shots.

As for Casey The Smith, he faced 16 shots at all strengths in 24:04 of ice time, allowing 2 goals.  The difference, however, is he only face 3 high danger shots and 9 low danger (Murr faced exactly 3 low danger shots, for reference).

Suffice it to say, the Pens didn’t do much to help their goaltenders out last night and anyone trying to put this loss on goaltending is blatantly ignoring that.

With all that being said, this is only just the 2nd loss in regulation the Penguins have suffered this season and it came while they were missing the services of two of their top 3 D-men in Kris Letang and Justin Schultz.  Coming into it, they were the only team with just 1, but exist as one of only 2 teams with 2 regulation losses on the year (Tampa).

Everything is cool, man.


As noted, Letang was out because of a lower body injury he suffered in Vancouver (below), paving the way for a top pairing of Riikoulin.  No changes to the forward group from that Vancouver game, which was still missing Brassers.


NYI – 1st Pd./10:43 – Ladd; A: Filppula, Pulock  1-0

Pens got off to a little bit of a choppy start for the first couple of shits, but when Hornqvist hit the pipe on a backhander under 2 minutes in, they started to settle in and take the game by the balls.  NYI pushed back a bit until Simon and Crosby got themselves a 2v1, during which Bailey slashed Crosby to put the Pens to work on their first PP of the game just 6:21 in.  Riikola QBed PP1 in The Tang’s absence, Malkin was buzzing, but the Isles killed it off before heading down ice and opening the scoring themselves instead.

The goal started off an offensive zone faceoff in which Gene won, but following a point shot, the Isles were able to keep Phil! to the boards before turning the puck over and transitioning up ice.  With both Gene and Phil! committed below the goal line and Hagelin tracking the puck kicking out, Hags was able to pin Lee to the boards and force him to shovel the puck into open space.  Cue Jack Johnson looking like he was caught between pinching to Nelson or dropping back towards his own zone.  He did neither until Nelson gained possession, effectively taking JJ out of the play.  His pass back to turned Pulock loose up ice on an odd-man rush, hitting the Pens blueline with speed on Ruhwedel with Johnson trying to recover from whatever the hell he was doing.  ValFil trailed in, beating Malkin into the zone and taking a Pulock feed, opening up Ladd jumping in all alone on the backdoor.

(Spoiler Alert: You will read the following sentence a total of a bunch of times here)

Absolutely nothing Murray can do there.

@ whomstever was supposed to track Ladd:

NYI – 1st Pd./12:28 – Nelson; A: Bailey, Martin  2-0

Less than 2 minutes later and the Pens were down 2 on a play where they looked like they had everything under control.  First, the Isles softly dumped the puck at Maatta, who had a little trouble controlling it, but keep possession by sweeping it over to Oleksiak.  His only option was to throw it back down to the Islanders end of the ice, setting Leddy up to return the favor.  The Pens went for a change and Leddy caught them, head-manning the puck up to Matt Martin in the neutral zone to send it in deep.  Sheahan was back, covering for Ruhwedel, but instead of retrieving the puck and giving it to the supporting Johnson, he tried to stop up and body Bailey.

Don’t get me wrong, if my two choices were giving the puck to Jack Johnson and looking like an asshole, I’d choose the latter, but I am also not a professional hockey player.

Anyway, Bailey made Sheahan look like an asshole, taking the puck and feeding Nelson all alone in front of Murr to make it 2-0.

Absolutely nothing Murray can do there.

PIT – 1st Pd./14:24 – Simon; A: Crosby, Dumoulin  2-1

The wild end to the first period didn’t stop there because, again 2 minutes later, a goal was scored and the Pens got themselves on the board.

Magical work from the Pens top line of Guentzel-Crosby-Simon, started by Bake’s sweet defensive play to pick the puck off Barzal and start the transition up ice.  Dumo joined late to take Grendel’s pass, feeding Crosby down low to the right of Lehner.  Superstar level effort from 87 to dive and keep the play alive in the o-zone, knocking the puck off Eberle’s stick and back to Simon at the point to keep it moving.  With Guentzel wreaking havoc in front, Crosby, Simon, and Dumo worked the interchange before Crosby went to work in his office behind the net, eventually kicking the puck out to Simon for the look.

Only bounce the Pens really had go their way all night as Simon just threw it at the direction of the net, getting the carom off Pulock’s skate and in behind Lehner.

PIT – 1st Pd./17:41 – Crosby; A: Oleksiak  2-2

And before you knew it, we were even Steven for the first and last time on the night.

This time, the Isles looked poised to handle the Pens dump in and hit them on a rush back the other direction.  Jamie OhSexyBack had other plans, dispossessing Eberle in the neutral zone for Crosby to pick it up and walk in on Lehner.

The answer to the burning question Sid asked when he got control was an unequivocal, unrelenting and resounding “Yes.  Yes you absolutely can and should snipe.”

NYI – 2nd Pd./9:32 – Martin; A: Cizikas, Pulock  3-2

Despite the Pens going back to the PP 3:37 into the 2nd frame, they weren’t able to break the deadlock.  Just like clockwork, a couple of minutes later (again), they were fishing the puck out of their own net as the Isles gained some momentum from the kill on just their first shot of the 2nd period.

Again, it looked like the Pens had shit under control.  A dump in, cleaned up by Lehner and outletted by Pulock took a deflection off of Derek Grant’s stick in the neutral zone before taking a hop over Maatta’s stick weirder than that kid in third grade that shit his pants playing 4 square.

No chance for Oleksiak or Murr as Cizikas collected and fed Matt Martin on the back post.  GTFO.

Absolutely nothing Murray can do there.

NYI – 2nd Pd./11:56 – PPG – Eberle; A: Barzal, Leddy  4-2

About a minute later, the Pens found themselves shorthanded for the 2nd time, this time with Guentzel going off for “interference.”

During the kill at around the halfway point, it looked as though Dumo and Ruhwedel were set to clean up a dump in and clear the zone, but the referee in the corner had other plans by getting in the way of Ruhwedel’s attempt.  It provided possession back to the Islanders, who were able to set up and go back to work along the perimeter.

Eberle may have fallen victim to a few gaffes in the first period, but he was clinical in front of goal in the 2nd, taking a pass from Barzal and seeing a clear lane to walk out from the goal line straight to the front of the net.

With Dumo stepping up to shadow Barzal and Ruh having to be cognizant of the cross-crease threat to Bailey on the backdoor, Eberle effectively had a 1v1 with Murr from close range.  The patience he showed to wait and take an extra little stride to change the angle left the Pens netminder for dead…again.

Absolutely nothing Murray can do there.

NYI – 2nd Pd./13:49 – Eberle; A: Barzal, Pelech  5-2

With that, Murr was yanked to try to inject life/PCP into the Penguins veins.  Instead, they proceeded to give up a goal on the very next shot (and first The Smith faced in the game.)

With the Pens threatening, NYI cleaned up their zone through Adam Pelech.  Just as Riikola grabbed the clear in the neutral zone and looked poised to jam it right back down their dicks, Barzal mauled Riikola, turning the puck over to Pelech jumping in, turning it into a 3v1 going the other way.  It was only a 3v1 because Eberle got away with interference in the neutral zone, taking down Hagelin.  One pass later and Eberle was netting his 2nd of the game.

Absolutely nothing DeSmith can do there.

HCMS would hit ’em with a challenge for offside and it could not have been any closer, but the call on the ice stood.

PIT – 3rd Pd./1:23 – Malkin; A: Phil!, Oleksiak  5-3

However, with a 3rd period 3 goal deficit, the Pens looked like they were going to give the home fans a glimmer of hope 83 seconds into the period as they welcomed former Penguin Thomas Greiss to the game, replacing Lehner at the intermission for a “strain.” Hagelin-Malkin-Phil! were cooking with fire down low, eventually capitalizing on an errant pass that Oleksiak jumped on to shift it back down low to where Phil Kessel made all of the haters and losers (of which there are many) that spent all summer painting him as a villain that doesn’t work hard enough defensively or “needs a bounce back year” look like the worm-brained dumb idiots they are, swooping in, lifting Hickey’s stick and stealing the puck before Hickey even knew where he was or what he was doing.

With all of the attention being on Phil Kessel: Puck Owner, the Isles forgot to do anything about that Evgeni Malkin cat going straight to the net.

Hands team, engage.

NYI – 3rd Pd./9:44 – Kuhnhackl; A: Leddy, Pulock  6-3

Noted good boy Chet called it very early last night and you bet your ass he was right as the finishing blow came just before the midway point of the 3rd.

Worth noting that Patric Hornqvist had a hell of a time controlling the puck last night and it was evident here.  A breakout pass to him and only him exploded off of his stick in the neutral zone after the Pens were able to clear their lines.  The ensuing grimy ass scrum went the Isles way, allowing Hickey to rim it around.

Maatta was on the receiving end to collect on his backhand, but instead of shoveling it past Kuhnhackl along the boards where the puck just came from (and where Hornqvist was posted up), he instead chose to slam on the brakes and move it in the direction of where all of the Islanders were coming from.  Oleksiak couldn’t do anything with the loose puck, but Anders Lee could.  Lee bodied up with Oleksiak, working the boards and moving it up high to Pulock at the point.

With acres of space on the weak side, that’s where he went with it for Leddy to freely wire a shot off the iron behind The Smith.

Only Tom Kat could locate the feral puck, turning and blindly throwing it back towards the front of the net.  Good things tend to happen when you do that shit and this good thing was it going in off Oleksiak’s skate.

Absolutely nothing DeSmith can do there.

The Pens did get a 3rd PP of the game with 5:07 remaining and played the last 3:59 of the game with 6 skaters and an empty net, but they just couldn’t get anything to beat Greiss.



Pens head to Long Island or wherever the fuck it is now that the Isles play their games for the second game of this home and home series on Thursday, where they will try to avoid getting swept for the 3rd straight home and home vs. NYI.  Go Pens.

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