Execution and puck control...two basic principles that are taught in pee wee hockey. You would expect NHL players to be able to follow these two principles every game throughout the whole game. Yet, the Penguins lacked both in the last four minutes of their collapse against the Boston Bruins.
This was a total group of effort on the part of both the players and the coaching staff. The players have to realize that you cannot sit back and put the win in your back pocket when you have four minutes left in the game. When your goalie keeps you in the game by spectacular play up to the four-minute mark, you rally around him and bring it home for him.
The killer instinct and desire to step on the neck of the Bruins was not there. There was no checking, puck control or the willingness to play smart hockey and stay out of the penalty box when the Pens had the game in their grasp. The defense stood around, did not give up the body, did not clear the front of the net or take control of play in their own end.
The body language of the coaching staff, in the last four minutes, showed a lack of passion and a look of shock on their faces. They looked like they didn't know what to do. There appeared to be no motivation or direction coming from behind the bench.
While on the subject of the coaching staff, will they ever figure out how to break the neutral zone trap? Every team that the Penguins play that uses the trap are successful against the Penguins. Most of these teams have losing records. That just shows you that the majority of the other NHL coaching staffs know how to break the trap, yet Bylsma and company can't master it.
After these last two games against the Bruins and the Wild, the Penguins players and coaches need to do serious soul searching. The players need to work together and play smart hockey. The team needs to pick up the slack left by the absence of Sidney Crosby and get back to the basics of sound principles and proper execution.
The coaching staff needs to prepare, motivate better and teach the killer instinct necessary to properly finish off an opponent when you have the game in your hands.
Unless both the players and the coaching staff do the job that is expected of NHL-caliber talent, this could turn into a frustrating season.
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