Pittsburgh Penguins: 5 Takeaways From 3-1 Loss To New York Rangers

Photo Credit: Peter Diana/Post-Gazette

The Pittsburgh Penguins dropped the second part of their two-game set with the New York Rangers, with a late Chris Kreider power goal the difference after the home team dominated the majority of the third period.

With the win, it gives the Rangers their first victory against Pittsburgh this season in what was their fourth game against them.

Jason Zucker opened the scoring, registering his third goal of the season. Kevin Rooney scored his second goal in as many games to tie things up before Kreider redirected an Adam Fox shot attempt past Casey DeSmith.

Here are five takeaways from the contest

  1. Power play frustration continues

The last time the Penguins scored a power play goal was against the Rangers, but on January 22. In the five games since then they have gone an astounding 0-19. Not surprising in the least has been the fact they have lost more times than they have won in that span.

For a team with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel and (usually) Kris Letang, going 0-19 in a five game stretch isn’t going to be a recipe for success. 

They seemed hesitant to shoot, instead opting for ineffective passes. While sometimes things may seem different on the ice as opposed to television, some of the shooting lanes were clear as day and they still opted to pass the puck.

  1. DeSmith was good, again

I wasn’t sure if DeSmith being the better of the two goalies was in the Penguins best interest going forward, and I’m still not sure of that. Going forward, at least for now, if he gives the Penguins the best chance then there is no reason to go back to Tristan Jarry for now.

DeSmith made some big saves again on Monday, stopping two of three high-danger opportunities - the lone he failed to stop was the eventual game-winner.

Undrafted and not having played in a NHL game in over a year, DeSmith has provided the kind of goaltending that the Pens were hoping to get out of Jarry this season.

  1. Spotlight on ‘The Kids’ in the Big Apple

It’s been no secret that Pittsburgh has been decimated by injuries on the blue line. Letang joined the ever-growing list that now included five players from the opening night roster.

So who led the ragtag team of blue liners that actually included a guy plucked off the streets and another who hasn’t played in a NHL game in seven years?

It was the two that may be the team’s top pair for the next five-to-ten seasons, John Marino and Pierre-Olivier Joseph.

While the two didn’t play together exclusively, they did see a chunk of the minutes once again, with Marino playing just over half the game (30:30), and Joseph topped his previous career high with 26:14 of time on ice.

Collectively, the two pushed the pace (55.17% in their favor on shot attempts), and broke even on high-danger chances. While their expected goal share was below 50%, there was no denying their contributions through a losing effort. 

They played extensively in all three aspects of the game, with Marino logging almost eight minutes with the man advantage, while also posting 3:26 while shorthanded (Joseph logged 4:08 on the power play, 2:21 shorthanded).

While unfortunate circumstances brought this out, it has been a treat watching the two grow, and it will continue to do so in years to come.

  1. Need More From 4th line

There is no denying that Sam Lafferty and Drew O’Connor possess NHL-caliber speed. It’s just time to see them turn it into something. Lafferty had a nice scoring chance but missed the net. 

The opportunities are few and far between with their lack of ice-time, so they have to capitalize on it. Having an expected goal share of 3.31 xGF% isn’t going to cut it, nor their 33.3 scoring chance for rate.

  1. The Brandon Tanev Factor

I was admittedly tough on the Penguins when they announced the contract of Tanev, as most people should have been. Six years for a player who hadn’t quite proven he was more than a bottom-six role player seemed steep.

It still might be at some point.

In the meantime, next to Crosby, I don’t think there is a forward on this roster I enjoy to watch more than Tanev.

With just 10 minutes of ice-time against the Rangers, he made his presence known. He leads the NHL in hits and added three more to his tally. He also blocked two shots, fired two on net himself and was very key in the penalty kill.

Tanev is tied for second on the team in goals with Guentzel and Zucker - two top-six forwards - and has two more markers than Malkin and Letang combined.

With the games against the New Jersey Devils postponed, the Penguins won’t play again until Saturday against the New York Islanders. For a team so decimated by injuries, and one with a number of players struggling, getting a couple of days to reset would be nice for the Penguins.

Follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy


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