Losers: Kris Letang and Ryan Graves Bad Around the Net
Watching the Penguins concede goals is always frustrating, especially when the initial impulse is to fault the goaltender. Yet, tonight’s game revealed a different narrative.
While the instinct might be to critique Alex Nedeljkovic for the goals allowed, a closer look shows that defensemen Kris Letang and Ryan Graves played a significant part in these missteps. In one notable instance, they inadvertently obstructed Nedeljkovic’s view in the first period, leading to a goal slipping past him.
Despite this, Nedeljkovic managed to end the game with an impressive .929 save percentage, making it hard to categorize him as a loser.
Admittedly, placing Letang in the loser category feels counterintuitive, especially considering his crucial role in the shootout. However, the issue lies in his inconsistent presence around the net, often becoming a hindrance rather than a help to his own netminder.
Graves, on the other hand, was even more disappointing. His contribution, or lack thereof, in terms of statistics was noticeable, but more concerning was his repeated obstruction of Nedeljkovic’s line of sight. This performance was far from what one would expect defensively from either player.
As an additional point, while Nedeljkovic could arguably have performed better in the shootout, thereby preventing the need for an extended 12 rounds, it’s clear that the defensive challenges posed by Letang and Graves during regulation didn’t do him any favors.