Sporadic Effort Is Prevalent In Pens’ Postseason


May 9, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Brian Gibbons (49) shoots the puck as New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) and defenseman Dan Girardi (5) defend during the third period in game five of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Rangers won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a general consensus that you can’t win every game. Simply because, well, it’s the playoffs.

While that’s certainly apparent, it doesn’t mean a team should take their foot off the pedal for one second. And that’s something the Pittsburgh Penguins struggle with.

Absolutely manhandling the New York Rangers on both sides of the puck in Game’s 3 and 4, Pittsburgh fell flat in Friday’s Game 5. Of course, they could have just lost the contest, but I’m not so sure that’s the reason.

The Penguins definitely created some quality chances, but was the effort there? Did they execute? Were they urgent enough?

Far too often, Pittsburgh, perhaps, gets too cozy with their series’ advantage. It was evident in round one against Columbus, when they’d sit back after putting up a three-spot on the board. But playoff teams will make you pay – no matter how skilled you are.

And that’s just it. When Pittsburgh does put forth a valiant work ethic, they’re arguably the toughest team to beat, due to the massive ammunition that resides in their lineup. That’s why it’s so frustrating and irritating to Pens’ fans because of what they’re capable of.

When the Pens are on, they’re pressuring the opposition, selling out for a blocked shot or retrieving puck possession, establishing a brutal forecheck, and eliminating time-and-space. Game 5 didn’t have any of those responsibilities Pittsburgh’s supposed to implement.

There was no conviction in the way they performed. Errant passes, poor discipline, and sloppy defensive attempts all crept into Pittsburgh’s game. Trying to do too much is also palpable. Look, Pittsburgh can do what most teams cant, but that doesn’t mean keeping it simple should be thrown out.

Clearing pucks out of the zone, dumping biscuits into the offensive zone, and putting the puck on net can go a long way in guiding a team to victory. Pittsburgh can do this on a game-to-game basis, however, it’s will they? You just don’t know what Pens’ squad is going to show up.

And if Pens’ fans are thinking to themselves, “it’s okay, we’ll get ’em in six,” you’d best retract your premature prediction, because New York is not done. Not by a long shot. Which is why Pittsburgh’s third period antics Friday night is really worrying me.

Of all teams, Pittsburgh may be the most temperamental collective. When things aren’t transpiring the way they’d like them to, retaliation is extremely noticeable, and as a result, penalties start to pile up. Pittsburgh was so frustrated even Jussi Jokinen joined in on the chaos – when do you see that?

Down 4-1 in the third, it’s almost as if they knew before the period began there was going to be a Game 6 – due to their body language and mental gaffes – when they should have been focusing on building a comeback.

Emotional meltdowns are concerning, but, I digress. The real issue here is Pittsburgh’s lack of persistence, attributed to their series/game lead. So, if Pittsburgh wants to see the next round, they must start honing their talent consistently.

It’s ignorant to blame one part of the Pens’ team because, as a whole, they’re not getting it done. A prompt turnaround is a must for Game 6, or feel the immediate pressure in Game 7.

Game 6 will be Sunday at 7 p.m., and it can be seen on the NBC Sports Network.