Well, the 12-game winning streak came to a halt this week at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Evgeni Malkin returned to the lineup and buried two power play goals, but a costly penalty gave the Flyers the opportunity they needed to win the game.
There’s no sense reading into the loss a whole lot.
Pittsburgh had won 12 in a row. All good things come to an end eventually.
It’s December. No need to freak out about being 1-3 against the Flyers at this point in the season. If the Pens are 1-3 in April or May, that’s a different story.
Marc-Andre Fleury is still playing out of his mind and got a much needed day off on Wednesday against the New York Rangers.
In the Rangers game, a third period collapse saw a 1-0 advantage turn into a 4-1 loss in a little over six minutes. The third period was rather ugly to say the least.
However, the last time the Penguins had a meltdown in the third period was against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 10. A two-goal lead vanished in the blink of an eye as the Bruins were en route to potting five goals in the period.
Pittsburgh only responded by going 14-0-1 before losing to the Flyers. Will it happen again? If I had money on it, I’d say it’s doubtful only because the odds of pulling something like that off again, that soon, have got to be low.
In other news, I must applaud the NHL for making the first episode of “24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road To The NHL Winter Classic” available online.
Is it wrong of me to have a sense of satisfaction at all the long faces on the Washington Capitals?
The sharp contrast between how the Penguins and Capitals were going about their business was not something I expected.
I’m sure some it stemmed from the Pens being in the middle of a hot streak and the Caps not being able to get out of their own way.
What I was more stunned by, was the utter lack of passion in the voice of Capitals bench boss Bruce Boudreau.
You can drop all the F Bombs you want, (The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg counted 31) but at some point it just becomes white noise.
You could see it in the eyes of the players after Boudreau addressed the team during the second intermission of a 3-0 loss to the Florida Panthers.
Boudreau was trying to rally his troops after giving up the first goal of the game with one second left on the clock. However, the whole team is staring at the floor.
It was like Boudreau just stole their ice cream cones and started eating them in front of their eyes.
Things aren’t going how the Caps would like at the moment, having lost seven in a row, but these things happen.
I don’t know if the players just aren’t buying what Boudreau is selling, or if they’re half-asleep while listening to him speak.
All I know is after listening to the way both coaches address their teams, I know who I would want to play for.
Dan Bylsma is short and direct to the point. He knows how to get the most out of his players without feeling the need to constantly yell. There’s something to be said about being upbeat and positive.
Even when Boudreau was being optimistic, it sounded forced. It was almost as if he was getting paid to say something nice to his club.
Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t want to listen to a single word the guy had to say. Just from personal experience, some of my coaches growing up were that way and those were the most ineffective coaches I played for.
It was also probably why our high school team was so dysfunctional and failed to meet expectations, but I digress.
There’s a time and a place for tough love and I think Boudreau’s frustrations are coming from a combination of the losing streak and owner Ted Leonsis breathing down his neck.
Look at Leonsis’ interview during the show. “The Penguins won their [Stanley Cup] already.” Obviously the main goal of any team is to win a championship. You strive to be better, to dominate and rise to the top.
However, if there’s that much pressure coming from the top to win “because your rivals have already won,” how is that productive? Maybe that’s why the Caps have had short playoff runs recently. That, or they just can’t handle the pressure of the big game.
Maybe they should stop trying to compare themselves to the Penguins and focus on being the Capitals. I don’t know, it’s just a thought.
Anyway, the Penguins’ players looked like a happy family both on and off the ice.
The funniest moment from the entire episode came with Marc-Andre Fleury and Co. removing all the furniture from the hotel room of Mark Letestu and Ben Lovejoy.
The young guys took the prank pretty well considering the amount of work it was going to take to put the room back together again.
I pulled the same stunt on one of my suitemates in college, which didn’t go over well at first. Eventually, he came around and saw the humor in it. However, that was after I got tackled in the hallway.
Anyway, the five-day layoff between games couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. This will give the Pens a chance to heal up and forget about their last two games.
It will give them a chance to clear their minds and focus on getting back on the winning side of things when they take on the Phoenix Coyotes Monday night.
If the Pens continue to lose, we can just blame it on HBO.