PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet joined The Fan Morning Show on Friday to talk about his team’s play during the stretch run.

Tocchet said that he sees the Pens’ recent struggles as a function of losing guys like Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, but is hopeful that they can rebound if they get one or two of those guys back.

“It was about three weeks ago, when Geno was in the lineup, and obviously Letang was in the lineup, we had some continuity with the lines, we had that west coast trip, I thought we were playing our best hockey in a long time,” Tocchet said. “That was the playoff-style hockey that we were playing, the way we played against the Kings and San Jose. Actually, as a coach, you go man, you like your team. Then you start getting a few injuries and all of a sudden you scratch your head like here we go again, we’ve got to climb back up. There’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Tocchet hopes that Wednesday’s loss to the Flyers lights a fire under the Pens.

“I think there’s urgency for some guys,” Tocchet said. “I mean, it was unacceptable. It was not a good game there were a lot of 50/50 battles, two-on-two battles that we didn’t come up with the puck, and that’s not acceptable, especially against a Flyer team that’s come in here and won a bunch of games in our building. I thought we would have saw more fight from us than we did, and yeah, as a staff you’re upset, but it’s the reaction of the guys after this game. Like I want to see how we play against Columbus [on Saturday], and when we go back into Philly [on Sunday]. You really want to show some mettle as an athlete, and I want to see how these players react to that.”

Tocchet also explained his feelings about weighing Steve Downie’s talent against the poor decisions Downie makes on occasion.

“He’s had success,” Tocchet said. “I love the guy. Does he go over the edge? Yeah. Are there some games that, you know, you want to grab him- basically you’re upset with him? Of course. But I think he adds a lot to our team… you look at the analytics and the stats, those are great. It’s not like he’s making a ton of money, so for me, he’s been a win-win in this organization, but saying that, there have been times where he has went over the edge. We’re constantly working on that. He knows it… we talk about it, and sometimes I stay away from it because you’ve got to, as a coach sometimes, or as a father, you get so upset that you want to just kind of give the guy 24 hours. But like I said, he’s going to be a big part of our team if we’re going to be successful in the playoffs. He has to be.”

The interview can be heard here:

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