What We Learned From The Pittsburgh Penguins' 5-2 Loss to the Capitals

WoooooSenior Writer IFebruary 22, 2009

This week's game of the week on NBC featured the Washington Capitals embarrassing the Pittsburgh Penguins on national television.

The Penguins played an unreal first period, then disappeared for the next 40 minutes.

The Caps started sort of slow, but turned on the jets in the second period and never looked back. They out-skated, out-hit, and out-shot the Penguins on their way to a 5-2 victory.

So, with 22 games remaining on the Pittsburgh Penguins' schedule, what did we learn from the Caps-Pens game this afternoon?


Pierre McGuire is the biggest joke on television.

This guy gets worse every week. There isn't a rule in the NHL rulebook that McJoker doesn't want to change.

At one point during the second intermission, McJoker insinuated that Alexander Ovechkin was a better hockey player than Mario Lemieux.

The inter-era comparison flaws aside, you just don't compare a guy who has been a beast for four years to one of the greatest players to ever step foot on the ice, let alone claim the former is better than the latter.

There are few occasions when I experience embarrassment for being associated with the city of Pittsburgh, or the Penguins' organization, but discussions about McJoker's former tenure as assistant coach of the Pens is certainly one of those times.


The Capitals are a big deal and will continue to be as long as Jose Theodore doesn't collapse. Yeah, I said it, the Caps are a big deal.

B/R's Colonel Sanders = stunned.

Washington boasts a deep bench, full of big bodies and hard slap shots. Mike Green, Niklas Backstrom, Sergei Fedorov, and Ovechkin are just the tip of the ice burg and are backed by a solid supporting cast.

Barring the Boston Bruins, Washington is the only other team in the Eastern Conference that looks almost unbeatable in a seven game series if the playoffs started today.

Alexander Semin is still a joke. C'mon, you knew it was coming... not Semin, coming, but the joke, coming. Right, moving on.


Max Talbot has been revitalized by IHCDB's system. For you non-Penguin fan readers, the abbreviation IHCDB stands for Interim Head Coach Dan Bylsma, and stems from his predecesors' abbreviation of HCMT, or Head Coach Michel Therrien.

Talbot has two goals in four games since IHCDB has taken over the reigns in Pittsburgh, after having just six in the other 50 games he has played this season.

Mad Max has always been a clutch performer for the Penguins (see: 2008 SCF Game 5) and they will need him to keep it going down the stretch.


Hal Gill is a parking cone. I realize that IHCDB is trying to send a message to Kris Letang by making him a healthy scratch. However, when the player replacing your healthy scratch is Hal Gill, you really should consider your decision a little more closely.

Many feel Letang has been the Penguins' best defenseman this season, prior to the return of Sergei Gonchar. Others feel Brooks Orpik has looked the best. Whatever you feel, if you haven't realized that Hal Gill does not deserve to be a top six defenseman on this team, get your balls out of your eyes.


Ryan Whitney and Jordan Staal need to be traded. I know there is a lot of disagreement in Penguin land about the future of both of these players.

I have been saying it for three years, and I'll continue to say it in the future, Ryan Whitney is not a quality defenseman. He is sloppy with the puck, lazy in his own zone, and incapable of learning how to perform a one-timer on the power play.

Whitney is the Penguins' weakest link on the blue line right now, and needs to be moved while his youth still provides the team room for a decent return.

Jordan Staal has become a great defensive forward. He can kill penalties with the best of them. But, so can at least six or seven other players on the Penguins' roster.

Staal has seen a steady decline in his offensive output since his 29 goal rookie campaign. Sure, the Penguins enjoy his prowess on the PK and hope that he will start to put the puck in the net with a little more regularity in the future, but why do they have to wait it out?

The Penguins need offense right now. They need someone to play with Sidney Crosby. They need someone other than Gonchar to be able to move the puck from the blue line. They are very deep at the center position, and once again, Staal's youth could provide a nice return from a team looking to add to their depth at the center position.


The PA announcer at the Verizon Center needs to tone it down. The PA system at the Verizon Center is not only blaring loud, the guy behind the microphone has one of the most cartoonish voices in the history of spoken language.

He makes Mike Emrick sound like a professor of communication.

The Caps rattled off two quick goals in the third period, which led to this joke talking over the loud speaker for over two minutes of game time. That has to be tough to listen to as a player, but maybe that's one of the reasons Washington likes this guy.


Chris Minard does not have NHL talent. Sorry Minnie, you're just not cut out for the NHL.

The Penguins' organization has been trying to break Minard into the NHL for the past two seasons, and it has not, and will not work, ever.

Minard is a beast at the American Hockey League level, as IHCDB is well aware of, but Bill Thomas, Jeff Taffe, or Janne Pesonen would fit the big club much better than Minard.


Tyler Kennedy's offensive production has disappeared. It's been 10 games since TK has registered a point. In his last 20 games, he has recorded just one goal and one assist. He has nine goals and 11 assists on the season.

TK was a guy who, coming into this year, was expected to be a fairly consistent point producer for the Pens. He started off the season on a nice roll, and found a home on the third line along side Staal and Matt Cooke. Then, he got injured. Then, suspended for douching Luke Schenn in Toronto.

Since the injury, TK hasn't looked like the same player. He hasn't netted a goal in his patented behind the net, curl, short side snap shot way in what seems like forever.

He has seen time with Crosby on the team's first unit, and is now back with Staal and Cooke on the third line, where he has been comfortable for parts of the last two seasons.

TK is another role playing guy that is going to have to pick it up down the stretch if the Pens are going to make the playoffs.

These are some things we learned from the Pens-Caps game this afternoon. Some of them became obvious for the first time today, other have been recurring incidents.

One thing is for sure, if Ray Shero isn't considering the Penguins as deadline sellers after this afternoon's performance, he never will.

Let's Go Pens.


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