Pittsburgh Penguins Playoff Recap
By: Joey Wagner
It’s been 48 hours since the gut-punching loss Sunday night, and I am ready to give my unbiased thoughts about the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoff 1st round series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. The New York Rangers defeated the Penguins in 7 games, overcoming a 3-1 series deficit, winning the final 3 games, and there was ONE common thread in their comeback in the series.
BLOWN LEADS, BLOWN LEADS, AND MORE BLOWN LEADS
The Pittsburgh Penguins had leads during each of Games 5, 6, and 7 and to let them all go and lose is completely and absolutely unacceptable. The Pens were up 2-0 in Game 5 before falling 5-3 in Madison Square Garden, also up 2-0 in Game 6 at PPG Paints Arena before giving it away 5-3, and more tragically coughed up a 3-2 lead with 6 minutes remaining in the 3rd period of Game 7 before Artemi Panarin sent them home for good in overtime. I don’t know what else to say except that this cannot happen EVER, not even in the preseason, not in pee-wee hockey!
The Penguins forwards and offense were not an issue in this series as they potted 29 goals in the 7-game series, including 25 behind likely Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin, and I think we can still hear the “I-GOR” chants now. The forwards were for the most part very solid as they catapulted the Pittsburgh Penguins to these leads in the series and games, and the goaltending was okay for the extreme circumstances of 3rd stringer Louie Dominique playing in 6 of the 7 games.
In my opinion, most of the blame should be pointed at the most expensive defense corps in the entire NHL. The Pittsburgh Penguins have more than $27 million in cap space devoted to their defenseman, and the return must be better for the investment than what we just saw. Here are just a few…
Kris Letang -- $7.25 million cap hit [-3 Rating]
Mike Matheson -- $4.875 million cap hit [4 NYR goals deflected in off his skates in series]
Marcus Pettersson -- $4.025 million cap hit [lost helmet and argued with referee instead of picking it up; led to Rangers tying goal in Game 7]
The offense got the leads, the defense blew the leads, so if I were the Penguins, I would make major changes on the blue line to get the group back to actual Stanley Cup contention. Ron Hextall, improve the D-corps this offseason, and please don’t BLOW it like your defense just did.
Logo Credit: Pittsburgh Penguins