Notebook: Penguins annoyed by performance

Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun watches during practice on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.
Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun watches during practice on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.
Photo by Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
| Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, 1:15 p.m.

The Penguins realize there is a problem. They just aren't sure how to solve it.

When their lineup is nearly intact — such occasions have been rare during the Dan Bylsma era — mental lapses and defensive inadequacies have been commonplace.

And the Penguins know it.

“I wish I had the answers for why we don't come out and play our best game when we have everyone (healthy),” left wing Chris Kunitz said. “Maybe you let your foot off the gas pedal, maybe thinking someone on the next shift will pick up the slack. I think we all know we need to be better.”

Numerous Penguins players acknowledged that, while one bad loss doesn't represent a time to panic, there is a feeling of annoyance in the locker room. Many of the team's leaders, including defensemen Rob Scuderi and Brooks Orpik, have warned in recent weeks that the Penguins weren't playing well defensively, and that such a thing could lead to trouble.

The Penguins found trouble in a 5-1 loss Monday to the Florida Panthers. Sidney Crosby, Brandon Sutter and Matt Niskanen all ripped the body of work from that loss, and of recent performances.

Kunitz joined in on Tuesday.

“I wouldn't say it's time to panic but we know some things have gotten away from us,” Kunitz said. “We didn't work as hard in some of these games that we've won recently. We're trying to figure out what all of these bad habits are popping up on in our game right now. Being better defensively is obviously something we need to do.”

Left wing Tanner Glass was slightly more to the point.

“Giving up five goals against a team that isn't exactly the best offensive team in the league is pretty troublesome,” he said.

Glass sounds off

Glass has been a vocal opponent of the NHL's newly implemented hybrid icing system this season.

His feelings most certainly haven't changed since Monday against Florida, when he took a nasty tumble into the boards on a play that he believes should not have been ruled icing.

Florida defenseman Tom Gilbert wedged his stick between Glass' legs, forcing him to fall feet-first into the boards.

“It's unbelievable,” Glass said. “Everyone knows it's not icing. (Gilbert) knows it's not. He's slowing down and looking at me. He doesn't want to go first for the puck because he knows I'm going to hit him. Not only wasn't it icing, but it's a penalty.”

Glass clearly had reached the faceoff circle area first, which is supposed to cancel an icing call. However, many linesmen this season routinely have called races to the faceoff circle icing even if forwards frequently object.

“I don't blame the linesmen,” Glass said. “It's a tough call. But you've got to use a little common sense in this case. He's not even racing for the dot. He had given up on the play. He's letting me get the puck first.”

Glass also noted that hybrid icing rules are supposed to make the game safer. In his opinion, that hasn't been the case.

“I very easily could have been hurt on that play,” he said. “Luckily, it happened early enough that I was able to get my feet up. If you're going to call icing, call it earlier. We were already engaged.”

Ebbett back at practice

The Penguins continued to get healthier when forward Andrew Ebbett returned to practice. His ankle was broken by a shot from San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle.

Ebbett is unsure when he will return to the lineup but reported feeling good during the workout at Southpointe.

The Penguins did not sustain any injuries against Florida on Monday.

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