RECAP 8: It can't get worse than this, right? Bruins beat depleted Pens 4-1

RECAP 8: It can't get worse than this, right? Bruins beat depleted Pens 4-1

Penguins

RECAP 8: It can't get worse than this, right? Bruins beat depleted Pens 4-1

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Maddie Meyer – Getty

It’s hard to expect much from the Penguins right now. Consider the following:

  • They are starting a rookie on the top-pairing with less than five games of experience.
  • They are playing a sophomore on his weak side in an attempt to carry one of the worst defensemen in the league.
  • They are forced to play a defenseman that hasn’t seen NHL ice in seven years.
  • Two of their best players have been a disaster and their role players are struggling to get going.

While the Penguins’ record currently indicates they’ve been okay, that really isn’t the case. They won two of their games in a shootout which very easily could’ve been losses. They have just one regulation win through eight games. They have yet to put together a complete 60-minute performance without some monumental breakdown or screw up.

With their defense as depleted as it is, the Penguins will probably be holding on for dear life for the next several weeks as they hope reinforcements come sooner than later.

The Bruins topped the Penguins 4-1 Thursday night in a low-event, overall boring game. Shots on goal favored Boston 20 – 17 while the Penguins had a 42 – 34 edge in shot attempts. Scoring chances were 18 – 15 for Boston, and they also had a meager 1.2 – 0.88 edge in expected goals, per Evolving Hockey.

The Penguins settled for lousy shot attempts all night, taking just one shot attempt that was anywhere in the vicinity of what might be considered high-danger.

The Bruins didn’t have a ton of great offense either, but they almost exclusively shot from the slot and scored all of their goals from that area.


LINEUP

Kevin Czuczman drew into the lineup for his first NHL game since 2014.

P.O. Joseph was promoted to top-pairing duties in Brian Dumoulin’s absence.

Tristan Jarry Made his fourth consecutive start in goal.

1st period

BOS Goal – Wagner (1) Unassisted [6:10] 1-0 BOS

Welcome back to the NHL, Czuczman! In an attempt to clear the puck when defending a cross-crease pass, he deflected the puck right to the heart of the slot where Chris Wagner made no mistake and beat Jarry for the first goal of the game.

PIT Goal – Ceci (1) A: Rust, Blueger [15:03] 1-1

In his finest moment as a Penguin, Cody Ceci made an excellent play along the boards to keep the puck in the offensive zone. After corralling the loose puck, Ceci took the open ice that was given to him and walked to the slot before ripping a shot past Halak to tie the game.

Ceci had one of his best games in black and gold. He paced all Penguins skaters with 22:22 time on ice at 5v5. In that 22:22, the Penguins took 19 shot attempts to Boston’s 11, and controlled 54.2% of the expected goals, per Natural Stat Trick.

BOS Goal – Kuraly (1) A: Bjork [18:53] 2-1 BOS

The Penguins absolutely fell apart in the defensive zone with just over a minute to go in the first period. There were so many awful things the Penguins did on this goal it’s not even worth going over.

Regardless, as soon as you saw the puck trickle past Jarry, you knew deep down the Penguins weren’t coming back in this one.

2nd period

BOS Goal – Bergeron (4) A: Grzelcyk, Coyle [8:13] 3-1 BOS

The Penguins got caught puck-watching a little less than halfway through the game, leaving Patrice Bergeron to do as he pleased right in front of the Penguins’ net. He slipped a backhander past the pad of Jarry, who never gave himself a chance to properly get in position for the shot.

This wasn’t Kris Letang’s finest moment, either.

3rd period

BOS Goal – Bergeron (5) A: Marchand, McAvoy [1:40] 4-1 BOS

The Bruins put the game out of reach early in the third on the power play. Thanks to some nifty passing, they found Bergeron for a one-timer from the top of the right-circle who went high-glove on Jarry.

Jarry looked unprepared for the shot and was playing far too deep in his crease to have a reasonable chance at stopping the Bergeron blast.

The Penguins failed to score, or even generate a quality chance the remainder of the game.

FINAL: 4-1 BOS

Notes

  • Czuczman had a terrible return to NHL action. Not only did he gift the Bruins the first goal of the game, the Penguins were dominated with him on the ice at 5v5. Shot attempts were 12 – 4 in Boston’s favor and the Penguins controlled just 7.3% of the expected goals, per Natural Stat Trick.
  • Joseph is establishing himself as a legit NHL defenseman and didn’t necessarily look out of place on the top-pairing. Ideally you’d want him playing second or third-pairing minutes as he becomes more familiar with the NHL level, but the Penguins don’t have that luxury right now.
  • After a couple of solid games, Jarry wasn’t very good against the Bruins. On both Bergeron goals, he was far too deep in his crease to make the save. The Penguins cannot afford for him to have such miscues with their defense in its current state.
  • The Penguins took just two shot attempts off the rush all game and it’s becoming a problem how predictable they are in transition. There is no creativity, no changing lanes. Just a straight-ahead, easy to defend rush almost every time.
  • Of course the Penguins need to start getting more production from their top guys, but don’t undersell how offensively inept their bottom-six is. The Penguins don’t have a single bottom-six forward who is on the ice for more than two expected goals for per hour at 5v5. That is simply pathetic.

The Pens are back in action Saturday night when they visit the New York Rangers.

Thanks for reading! Let’s talk hockey on Twitter. Follow me @shireyirving.

All data from Natural Stat Trick and Evolving Hockey

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