Whenever things seems to go wrong, a lot of people point the finger at usually the head coach. The Pittsburgh Penguins have blown two leads over the last two in the final minute(s) of regulation and eventually lose in overtime or the shootout.
This has happened seven times this season. It has happened only three times from 2015-2016 until the 2017-2018 under Mike Sullivan. Did Sullivan all of a sudden get bad? No, because he has team in position to get back to the playoffs this season. Do you want to know where the problem lies with this team right now? Assistant coach Mark Recchi, assistant coach Jacques Martin, and goaltending coach Mike Buckley.
Recchi is more of a friend to the players it seems like than an actual coach. The power play has also given up several short-handed goals this season and this never occurred when Tocchet was one of the assistant coaches. Mark Recchi is responsible for the power play and the forwards.
If this team gets bounced early, he will be one of the reasons why this team doesn’t make a deep playoff run. Recchi has not made an impact on Phil Kessel and that is one of the reasons why he is struggling on the power play. Tocchet was able to get the best of Kessel before he took the Arizona Coyotes head coaching job after the 2016-2017 season.
Pittsburgh has the fifth best power play in the NHL at 25.1 percent. The talent they have on this is the reason why it is fifth. It has looked more bad than good at times this season.
They are 15th in penalty kill this season at 80.6 percent. The Penguins are usually much better than that on the penalty kill. Jacques Martin is usually responsible for the penalty kill. If they are unable to kill off penalties, it is possible a first-round is coming.
As for goaltending coach Mike Buckley, he hasn’t been very good in his two seasons with the team. Buckley is responsible for Matt Murray’s inconsistent play and he’s also responsible for DeSmith’s as well.
There is a reason why a lot of fans pick on Murray. His glove side isn’t very strong. Matt Murray should be better than he is. Murray’s record so far this season is 24-12-5 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.80 GAA, along with four shutouts.
Casey DeSmith’s record so far this season is 15-11-5 with a .916 save percentage and a 2.75 GAA, along with three shutouts.
As of right now, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the number three seed in the Metropolitan Division and they would face the New York Islanders in the first-round. It is a series that Pittsburgh should win and they are much better on paper.
If it is a first-round exit for this squad this season, it is quite possible management asks Mike Sullivan to get rid of his assistants and this is a thought that will continue to be in the back of my mind for the rest of the regular season and heading into the postseason.