Pittsburgh Penguins’ longest NHL playoff streak in doubt

I could stop a comet.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, in many ways the industry standard for the past 15 years in the NHL, are looking pretty ragged right now. They look old, they look slow and it looks like they could be home for the playoffs for the first time since Sidney Crosby’s rookie season. Which isn’t great for a team, and especially a front office, which has gone wild trying to get one more hit for its aged core.

The Pens rubbed their ass in the moonlight last night in New Jersey, to the tune of a not-so-close 5-1 loss to the Devils. Pittsburgh was bombed in both attempts and expected goals and just about every other metric you want to use. They were so far behind the Devils in every phase and every place on the ice that you wondered if they had been drugged.

It continued a maddening pattern for the Pens, who weren’t able to build any sort of head steam to grab a playoff berth by the throat that no other team seems to want. They keep trying to hand it to the Florida Panthers or the Islanders, but because the Panthers are coached by Paul Maurice and therefore try to drive a car with both thumbs up their ass, that hasn’t been done either. kidnapped in Pittsburgh. The Penguins haven’t been able to win more than two straight games in three weeks.

What’s wrong with Pittsburgh?

What was the problem? Where would you like to start? While the stats since March 1 look pretty good (53.6 Corsi ratings, 56.3 expected goal shares), they can’t make those numbers count for one side or the other. Their goalie over the past five weeks has been dismal — Casey DeSmith has a .905 save percentage in that span, Tristan Jarry a .878. And, if you allow me to go to an old standard, they can’t kick a bull in the ass with a banjo on the other end, shooting less than seven percent at equal strength.

The Pens still get almost all of the weight pulled from the top of the roster, your Crosbys, your Malkins, your Letangs. But whatever GM Ron Hextall tried to do to fortify the final six or final pairings ended up looking like the worst science fair project imaginable. Jeff Carter looks like mayonnaise left out in the sun for a week. The Pens acquired Mikael Granlund at the deadline and he has four points in 16 games, and here’s how it looks visually:

Dmitry Kulikov came in from Anaheim and immediately his organs fell out in his ankles or something because he hasn’t been seen since.

All of this led to the Pens losing points as a drunk waiter at brunch. They gave the Bruins at least one last Saturday when they left David Pastrňák alone in their slot with a square mile of space. He has only scored 56 goals so far. They gave up seven goals to the Wings who have nothing to do these days and not many people to do it with, and that’s after they came back from 3-0 down. They allowed two goals in two minutes in the 3rd against the Stars before that when they were tied 1-1, which happened one night after beating the Avalanche in Colorado, which only made the situation even more infuriating. They lost to the Senators at home when they surrendered the winner with less than three minutes remaining.

If they just got both home games against Ottawa and Boston in overtime, they’d have a one-point lead for the top wildcard spot, instead of staring the Islanders and Panthers ass. Difficult to do this kind of thing when you are constantly outclassed in the 3rd period, as the Pens were (94-82).

The calendar could save them. They then have the Wild, who are trying to win the Central. But after that, it’s two teams leading the Suck Hard For Bedard Derby in Columbus and Chicago with a game against the inert Wings. But as we saw earlier, this is not a guarantee. But the Islanders see three moribund teams in their remaining four games (Caps, Flyers, Habs), while the Panthers also get the Sens and Caps, then the Lightning and Canes with nothing to play for. But the Pens are totally boneless on the tiebreaker (regulation wins), so they need to earn two points on one of the Islands or Panthers. Which probably means leading the table, and with that goalie constantly looking the wrong way and a last six that’s been turned to gravel, who’s betting on that?

The bill may have finally come due at The Confluence, which is usually what you get when you hire Hextall. Who looks at the Flyers and thinks, “Mmm yes, I’ll take some?” You get what you deserve sometimes.

Joel Embiid is not the MVP?

Are you sure that man isn’t the MVP? Maybe a little more due diligence needs to be completed?

Also, the only other guy to do all of that while shooting 80% from the field is Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt did it against a handful of guys who were bused in from the DMV. Embiid set foot in one of the five best defensive teams in this NBA. I’m not saying, I’m just saying…

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