The Pittsburgh Penguins split back to back games in Florida, beating the Panthers on Friday 4-3 and getting blown out by the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-1. This follows a familiar pattern this year where they play strong in the first game of a back-to-back series, then play poorly in the 2nd game. Why is this? Let’s see what we learned:
1) The Penguins have backup goaltender problem
There’s no hiding it now – Antii Niemi is awful. In 3 games, he has a Goals Against Average of 7.50. He hasn’t given the team a chance to win and you have to wonder how long he’ll be on this team. Do they need to make a trade? Should they call up Tristan Jarry? Do they stick with him? Time will tell.
2) Are they tired?
Why does the NHL force teams to play 2 games in 2 nights? The Penguins next game is in 3 days. They easily could’ve scheduled a game on Friday and Sunday. It doesn’t help the Penguins, who have played more games than any other team the last 2 years. After the Lightning game, coach Sullivan called the team ‘flawed’ and that it doesn’t’ have to do with back-to-backs. Then why do they always play strong in the first game of the back-to-back and terrible in the 2nd game?
3) Help is on the way!
The Penguins traded Scott Wilson and a 2018 3rd round pick to Detroit for center Riley Sheahan and a 2018 5th round pick. Sheahan will be 3rd line center that the Penguins badly need. Greg McKegg was in that role and did okay but he’ll be better as the 4th line center. Hopefully this fills the void left by losing Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen in the offseason.
Lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan here.