Islanders' speed dictates victory over Penguins
By Rob Rossi
Published: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, 10:16 p.m.
Dan Bylsma can't coach speed.
His Penguins players, however, must quickly do a better job of defending against it.
Improving upon “emotion and spirit” would help, Bylsma said Tuesday night after a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders that kept the Penguins without a point after two games at Consol Energy Center.
With only 24 home games in the truncated NHL season, that trend must change fast.
The Penguins (3-3-0, 6 points) have fizzled after a fast start with road wins over the Flyers and Rangers.
This loss looked a lot like the one at Winnipeg on Friday and against Toronto in the home opener a week ago.
“I would say our speed gave them problems,” Islanders center Frans Nielsen said after recording two assists in his club's victory.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was replaced for the third period by Tomas Vokoun. Fleury made just 13 saves.
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said that neither he nor his teammates did anything well against the Islanders. In fact, only a late goal by right winger Pascal Dupuis prevented the Islanders from their first shutout in Pittsburgh since 1985 or anywhere against the Penguins dating to 1986.
Sidney Crosby was born in 1987. He is not entirely convinced the Penguins are playing slower than in past seasons.
“I don't know if I've analyzed it that hard,” Crosby said. “We try to play a quick game, transition fast. With (virtually) no (training) camp, maybe we aren't. But it hasn't been something I've noticed.”
Aggressive forechecking (center Casey Cizikas) and breakaway skill (right winger Michael Grabner) helped the Islanders take a 2-0 lead. Pinpoint power-play passing led to goals by center John Tavares and left winger Matt Moulson.
The Penguins went 0 for 3 on the power play and are in a 1-for-14 funk.
They rarely challenged against the Islanders and failed miserably on two first-period advantages. They did not win battles for puck possession and zone entry. They also did not make sharp reads.
The Islanders began Tuesday with the NHL's third-best penalty kill, having allowed only one goal on 17 chances. Still, the Penguins generated only two shots — both by forward Dustin Jeffrey, a healthy scratch the previous four games — on nearly four full minutes of power-play time to open the third period, the result of a boarding major for Islanders right winger Colin McDonald, who crunched defenseman Ben Lovejoy late in the second.
The Penguins looked slow when not proving powerless on the advantage.
Defensemen were forced to play pucks deep in the offensive zone, and Islanders forwards quickly closed off passing lanes and took away the walls. Islanders defensemen were faster to loose pucks in their own zone, and they were aided by Penguins forwards who settled for high-risk pretty plays such as low-percentage passes.
“We didn't make it easy for them,” Tavares said. “That was a focus of ours. I think we frustrated them.”
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Maatta leaves lasting impression with Selanne
- Trade to Penguins caps frenetic period for winger Stempniak
- Sharks praise ex-teammate, newest Penguins player Goc
- Penguins notebook: Kennedy struggling to find net in San Jose
- Penguins identify Canucks’ Kesler as top trade target
- Stempniak, Goc embrace trades to Penguins
- Despite expanded format, NHL’s outdoor games prove popular
- Penguins’ Letang reveals scary details of stroke
- Penguins fail to land star center Kesler at NHL trade deadline
- Penguins warming to cold Soldier Field
- Penguins’ Shero a master of NHL trade deadline deals