Canadiens Penguins

U mad, bro?: Penguins are down 2-1 to Canadiens. So, yeah. We’re furious. – TribLIVE

Our weekly reader-reaction question for Pittsburgh sports fans is “U mad, bro?”

Well, the Penguins just blew a 3-1 lead to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of their best-of-five preliminary round series.

The franchise is now on the verge of losing its third straight playoff series. This time, it’s looking like the Penguins will be sent packing by a team that ranked 24th in the NHL entering this revamped playoff format.

So, what do you think? Do you think Penguins fans might be a little mad right now?

All these responses came from Wednesday night’s “Hockey in the Hub” show.

And, trust me, these are the kind ones.

OK, Yuri, start us off!

That was a pathetic and embarrassing (expletive) show. Up 3-1 and then lose 4-3 to a bad team who they made look like the early ’80s Oilers!

I don’t know, Yuri. You might not be giving them enough credit.

The way the Penguins are making them look right now, it feels like Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jeff Petry are better than those bums Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey ever were.

On their best days.

Randy puts the bullseye on the star players.

Pens big time players need to play big in big time games. They simply haven’t lately.

Exactly, Randy. This is the 13th consecutive playoff game in which the Penguins have failed to break the three-goal plateau. Take a look at some of these numbers in the series so far.

• Kris Letang has 94 shifts in this series and no points.

• Evgeni Malkin has one point in the series.

• Jake Guentzel’s only goal on 11 shots so far is an empty-netter.

• Sidney Crosby scored in the first two games. But in 19:35 of ice time Wednesday, he managed just two shots on goal, was a minus-1, and lost 15 of 23 faceoffs.

The stars haven’t been stars often enough.

Tyler has an ominous feeling about where things are going.

The Pens shouldn’t have to be scratching and clawing every night to beat the 24th best team in the playoffs. I think this is just what they are now. Happened last year (against the New York Islanders). Happening this year. Reality can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes.”

First step? Grasping reality.

We don’t have a time machine that is going to take us back to 2009. Or even 2016 or 2017.

Second step? Dealing with the inevitable depression.

Tyler, I swallowed that pill. And it’s making me gag.

Mike is going after goaltender Matt Murray.

For as good as Murray was in the 3rd period on Monday, that’s how bad he was tonight. I have never seen a 6’4” goalie play like he was 4’6.

That’s been the book on Murray since the 2017 Finals against Nashville ended, Mike.

He used to be a goalie who played even bigger than his frame. He took away every shot. Every angle. Every look.

Now, at times he crouches low and makes himself look far more compact than he is.

During this series, at times I feel as if he has gotten too far into his own net. And the Canadiens have seen that, too. They’ve tried that bad angle shot Petry pulled off on a few occasions during this series.

Wednesday, Petry sniped it for the game winner.

Jeff Petry (@PetryJ) ?. #StanleyCup Qualifiers

??: @NHLonNBCSports

??: @Sportsnet

— NHL (@NHL) August 6, 2020

As you can see there, Murray wasn’t terribly deep that time. He got unlucky on the bounce off his mask and into the goal. But scouting-wise, he had invited that shot over the previous two games.

All that said, I don’t think Murray is the reason they are on the verge of elimination. Yes, Montreal’s Carey Price has been better in the other net. But it’s not like I watched Game 1 or 3 and thought to myself, “You know what, if Tristan Jarry is in the net, they win that game!”

The Penguins are down 2-1 because they don’t score enough anymore. Pure and simple.

Joe wants to know if Mike Sullivan is about to find himself on the hot seat.

Is it crazy to ask? If they lose this series, is Sully’s job in jeopardy? With this amount of talent to lose to this team it’s unreal.

It’s not crazy, Joe, because a lot of good hockey coaches have been fired for a lot less than getting swept by the Islanders and potentially losing to the 24th-ranked team in hockey.

But coming off the pandemic pause and with Sullivan’s track record, my bet is he’ll survive into the next season before any such move would be made.

By comparison, after the 2009 Stanley Cup, Dan Bylsma won one playoff series against the Senators in 2010. He then lost three series in a row against the Canadiens (2010), Lightning (2011), and Flyers (2012).

That’s exactly where Sullivan would be if they lose to the Canadiens here. After the 2017 Stanley Cup, his team beat the Flyers to open the 2018 playoffs, then lost to the Washington Capitals, the New York Islanders (2019 opening round), and may lose to the Canadiens.

Does he get two more years beyond that like Bylsma did? I don’t know. Sullivan seems like more of a gruff guy than Bylsma was. Maybe the players will “tune him out” quicker.

Robbie wants to talk coaching, too.

Sully is ‘Disco’ (Dan Bylsma) 2.0.

See the above response, Robbie. Disco music got really popular, really fast. Then it faded really quickly.

That analogy held with Bylsma. I’m fearing it’s becoming applicable to Sullivan, too.

Ben is upset Patrick Marleau keeps getting ice time.

Why is Marleau getting played over Evan Rodrigues? If we can see he is no longer effective and does zero to contribute, why can’t the coaches see that? Or does Sully just feel he’s right and won’t remove him from the lineup?

Yeah. That’s a little of it right there. Bylsma did some of that “I’d rather lose than be proven wrong” stuff by the end of his run, too.

I also think they are deferring to a veteran. And I think they are trying to justify Marleau’s unnecessary acquisition.

Wednesday, Marleau did a nice job as the net-front guy screening Price on Jason Zucker’s power play goal.

Yet, he was a minus-3 in less than 11 minutes of ice time. Marleau shouldn’t be playing.

Justin has a stunning realization.

Maybe they just aren’t that good anymore, ya know?”

Yup. I do know.

And I think the rest of North America is figuring that out now, too.

Frank touched on something I wanted to address.

Pittsburgh plays like a team that thinks they are better than what they are, which in turn leads to losses to inferior opponents.

In between the second and third periods, Teddy Blueger was the NBC intermission interview. In referencing the blown 3-1 lead, he said something to the effect of “we let off the accelerator a little bit” or “we let up a little bit.”

I didn’t catch it live, but whatever he said, he’s 100% right. And that’s 100% frightening.

Because the Penguins played like a team that was up 6-1 with two minutes left. Not up 3-1 with 34 minutes left.

John wraps it up for us.

The window is closed.”

Well, maybe that’s not a bad thing, John. Because for the amount of time Penguins shooters have hit the glass so far in this series, maybe they’ll break it open again.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

Penguins/NHL | Sports | Breakfast With Benz

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optimistic Penguins

Penguins optimistic over bid to host NHL playoff games – TribLIVE

The Penguins have bid to host NHL-sanctioned and other hockey events before.

A handful of outdoor games in 2011 and ’17. The draft in 2012. And the NCAA’s Frozen Four in 2013.

So the paperwork of that process isn’t anything new to them.

But bidding to host nearly half the league for a handful of weeks during a worldwide pandemic? That’s a unique circumstance.

On Tuesday, the NHL announced a “Return to Play” plan that would have 12 teams being hosted in two cities each for at least a qualifying and round-robin round of postseason play. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman identified 10 NHL cities as possibilities, including Pittsburgh.

The Penguins submitted a bid upwards of two months ago when the NHL was still spitballing ideas to resume play.

“We thought, ‘What better place to get this all started again than Pittsburgh?’ ” Penguins CEO and president David Morehouse said. “We’ve got an internationally renowned medical partner in UPMC to oversee health and safety protocols. We’ve got tremendous facilities in PPG Paints Arena and the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex (in Cranberry) that the NHL knows well because we hosted two Stanley Cup Finals in recent years. We’ve got great support from the business community and our political leaders, and, obviously, we think Pittsburgh’s the best hockey town in the country.”

Also named were Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Toronto and Vancouver.

The teams in the cities that are selected may not enjoy home-ice advantage, however. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said teams from host cities may be moved to the other hub in the name of fairness.

The NHL has primarily considered three factors: A region’s infection rate with the coronavirus, the availability of NHL-caliber facilities and support from regional governments as well as corporations, including hotels.

The Pittsburgh region has not been stricken to the same degree as other majors cities. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Allegheny County has recorded 1,828 cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday. Butler County, where the Penguins practice facility is located, has only 222.

In contrast, Philadelphia County has 17,839 cases.

PPG Paints Arena, which is in its 10th season of use, is one of the NHL’s model venues when it comes to staging major events, such as the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 and ’17.

“The league is so familiar with those facilities because we’ve done so many events with them the last four or five years, obviously leading with the two Stanley Cup Finals,” Penguins vice president of communications Tom McMillan said. “They come into your city, and they basically take over your facilities. They know both of our facilities inside and out, the locker rooms, the meeting spaces, the workout areas and all the things you would have to put in your bid.”

Additionally, UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex has two sheets of ice as well as the required amenities beyond the rink — dressing rooms, video technology, training and medical facilities — to service several NHL squads.

Even under normal circumstances, such as bidding to host the World Cup of Hockey or even an International Ice Hockey Federation junior tournament, such a facility has nearly become a requirement.

“Anything that we bid for, it’s essential to what we do,” McMillan said. “When we had the World Cup of Hockey, teams skated up there. Last year, we did the U.S. women and Canadian women national teams. The functionality of that facility … it’s two other sheets of ice in a facility that blows people away when they walk in for what is a ‘practice facility.’ ”

Finally, regional leaders in government and business have endorsed the Penguins’ bid to the NHL.

“The hub would have a positive impact on the region and could benefit businesses that have suffered during the pandemic, including hotels, which would host visiting teams,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said during a press briefing. “I think it would be a good thing for Pittsburgh, and it’s something that I’m hopeful that we’re able to get.”

Fitzgerald, county health officials and the Penguins have discussed how to host games safely, he said.

“We were kind of overwhelmed with the support, with the support of the (regional) business and political leaders,” McMillan said. “We put together a detailed document with a PowerPoint (presentation) and (Morehouse) was able to present to the league. But we had an organizing committee that basically had the name of every major CEO in Pittsburgh.”

A standing relationship with a healthcare entity such as UPMC didn’t hurt, either.

“Probably the leadoff is our connection with UPMC,” McMillan said. “Clearly, the most important thing here is health and safety. They’re an internationally renowned medical facility. Right there, we have automatic expertise in health and safety protocols (and) testing all the things that would be required.”

With pending staff furloughs and hiccups in the plans to redevelop the Civic Arena site (to say nothing of surgeries for injured forwards Nick Bjugstad and Dominik Simon), the past month has not been good for the Penguins by any measure. But they are hopeful their bid to host games has provided a much-needed boost.

“This a tough time for all of us, a lot of companies, a lot of teams,” McMillan said. “It’s really virtually unprecedented. To have the opportunity to come out of it, that’s why we grasp it. It would be really exciting. It’s not just the Penguins. It’s the city. It’s the region.”

“We have a pretty strong bid. There’s a big case to be made for Pittsburgh.”

Follow the Penguins all season long.

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