Loss to Rangers Highlights Pittsburgh Penguins’ Biggest Flaw


After falling back down to earth last night courtesy of a 5-0 shellacking at the hands of the New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been given a chance to reassess the strength and identity of their team while the season is still young.

While the Pens have looked strong thus far this season, posting a record of 10-3-1 that places them atop the Metropolitan Division, the embarrassing loss to the Rangers exposed Pittsburgh’s biggest flaw – their propensity to forget what makes them successful when emotion gets involved.

We’ve seen it time and time again when the Penguins face off against their deeply disliked rivals from Philadelphia. We see it every time a playoff series gets heated and the Pens’ emotions take centre stage.

Rather than using this emotion to drive them forward and play harder, within the structure that has made them one of the league’s most lethal teams, they begin playing recklessly, making costly mistakes, and relying too much on the wrong parts of their game.

In only 14 games thus far, the Penguins have already been burned twice by this tendency. Once against the Flyers, wherein they were trumped 5-3, and again last night, in a game that saw Pittsburgh at a loss for how to deal with New York offensively and defensively.

The Penguins are a strong enough team to roll through the league’s weaker clubs but their end goal doesn’t depend on how many times they can dominate the Buffalo Sabres. It depends on how they play against the strongest teams in their division and in their conference.

If they continue to allow emotion to cloud their judgment when they face off against teams like Philly and New York, the Pens have little hope of getting out of the Eastern Conference for another chance at the Stanley Cup.

The season is still young and the Penguins have much time to grow and improve, but considering this issue is one that has haunted the team for a few seasons now, it is one they must address directly.

Luckily Pittsburgh will get another chance at redemption next Saturday when they meet the Rangers once again.

If they hope to take a step forward in 2014-15, the Pens will have to use Saturday’s game as a test, and must learn to be a little more surgical and calculated in their emotional play, and a little less reckless.

They certainly have the talent and the experience to make this change, but it is a change that must be made as soon as possible.