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NHL on NBCSN: Ducks, Penguins battle to end slumps

Nov 18, 2013, 8:42 AM EDT

Crosby AP

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Anaheim Ducks at the Consol Energy Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The Penguins and Ducks are two teams that could go far in the playoffs, but right now they’re just trying to break out of their recent slumps. Pittsburgh has lost four of its last five games while Anaheim is on a three-game losing streak.

Lately the Penguins biggest problem has been their offense with them being held to just one goal in four of their previous five matches. Still, it’s hard to imagine that a team consisting of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, and Pascal Dupuis can be contained for long.

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“It scares … me,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau admitted, according to the Orange County Register. “They’re about to break out. We just hope it’s Wednesday against Washington and not (tonight) against us.”

With that in mind, Boudreau has an interesting decision ahead of him when it comes to selecting his starting goaltender. He’s used three different goalies in his last three games, including Frederik Andersen, who was filling in while Viktor Fasth was sidelined with a lower-body injury.

Andersen was dominant, but he’s been sent to the minors, so Boudreau will have to chose between Jonas Hiller and Fasth. Neither goaltender has a clear hold on the starting job in Anaheim, but the possibility of limiting the talented Penguins would be a particularly big opportunity for Hiller. He has a .898 save percentage in his contract season and warmed the bench on Friday after an ugly loss against Tampa Bay.

Whoever Boudreau picks will be backed by defenseman Ben Lovejoy in his return to Pittsburgh. The 29-year-old blueliner spent parts of five seasons with the Penguins before he was traded to Anaheim in February. Lovejoy was never able to get too much responsibility in Pittsburgh, but he has become an important part of the Ducks’ defensive core.

Even if all that fails though and the Penguins heat up, this won’t necessarily be a win for Pittsburgh. Forwards Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are two of just seven players in the league with at least 10 goals and 23 points. That’s help the Ducks record 3.18 goals per game.

This is a team that can match the Penguins blow-for-blow in an offensive showcase, which is part of the reason why this might be the start of a great campaign for them. But first they need to get back into the win column.

  1. pitpenguinsrulez - Nov 18, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    Biggest question: When will Malkin show up and come to PLAY!!?

    • hockey412 - Nov 18, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      Will anyone…the Pens haven’t played bad, but there’s some obvious things going wrong. For example…Malkin leads the team in takeaways with 11 (he’s a minus 8). Datsyuk leads the league…with 34 (he’s a plus 7). Chicago (a pretty good team) has 3 guys in the top 10 in takeaways. There just seems to be a “you go get the puck for me” attitude right now.

      They’re a great team, and they’ll get it. Just hate to see the two way play slip. I feel like they’re hungry to score when they have the puck….just don’t seem hungry to get the puck when they don’t have it.

      • c9castine - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:22 PM

        id say thats a much better comment than “due hur wheres malkin at?!”. malkin is playing fine and has had games recently where he’s the best player on the ice for either team. he needs to shoot more and get himself in the right areas for scoring, but he’s making a lot of plays for this team right now.

  2. blackandorangeforlife - Nov 18, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    There is a better coach behind the Pens bench…….My bet is he becomes head coach in the next week……Player slumps are one thing but when you have a roster that loaded and fail to play a smart game it is on the coach and the style he is implementing!

    • hockey412 - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      Eh, I don’t see that happening. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Bylsma’s “style” except that he refuses to change things that aren’t working, whether it be within a game or within a series. The players are bought in to the offensive system as well…and they are 2nd in the division. They brought in help on the defensive side…but there’s no coaching controversy in Pgh.

    • hockey412 - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      Ah man…didn’t realize you were from Philly…there’s better ways to deal with things than firing and/or trading…

    • blackandorangeforlife - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      “except that he refuses to change”…Because he doesn’t know how to change…..He only knows run and gun (style) and has no clue how to adapt it….Not being a hater here…..Just saying what i see……And what i see is not working now that just about every team has figured him out….So what do you do when the opposing team knows what you will do?….Change….Has Dan ever changed?…..No…….Thus you make the change you can…..You wont seriously tell me Dan is better then Jacques would you?

      • hockey412 - Nov 18, 2013 at 12:59 PM

        To start, the Pens don’t play run and gun, they try to avoid it. They play an offensive system, but clearly not run and gun. They actually don’t shoot on the rush as much as they should, in my opinion, with the talent they have. The reason he doesn’t change is that he feels he has more ‘talent’ and can win by playing ‘their’ game. But I do agree that he doesn’t quite now how to change.

        But let’s look at his results…interesting quote from the game notes article after this one…

        • The Penguins’ Dan Bylsma (213-100-25, .667 points percentage) and the Ducks’ Bruce Boudreau (273-128-56, .659 points percentage) rank 1-2 among all active head coaches in points percentage (minimum 20 games).

        Martin’s record is .47. In the playoffs, his defensive style didn’t match up. Eliminated in the first round 58% of the time, and only made it past the second round twice in 11 tries. Yes. I’m saying Bylsma is better……..why aren’t you? A “hunch”?

      • blackandorangeforlife - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:07 PM

        Ask yourself this…..How would have the Blues, Ottawa and the Panthers fared with Dan as their coach?….Ottawa has never had a roster like this Pens roster if they did im sure they would have had a Cup or two…..Yes Dan has a Cup but that was partly do to Therrian and (Your going to love this) NHL officiating and Collin Campbell

    • jpelle82 - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:38 AM

      brilliant. replace the head coach with his defensive assistant because the players arent scoring goals. he should be able to help with that right? the defense has been good enough to win, so has the goaltending. pens are almost 2 to 1 for their pp to sh ratio and they have taken the 3rd least minors in the league. they are playing disciplined and smart for the most part. some bad puck luck and goals not going in is the only explanation at this point. these things work themselves out on their own, the goals will come. 5-5 in their last 10 games is hardly “fire the coach” time, especially so early in an 82 game season. this is the same roster that rattled off 15 in a row last year, nothing shows me that they cant do that again.

      • blackandorangeforlife - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:53 AM

        The same roster that won 15 in a row and almost lost to the Isles because of the coaches failure to adapt……The his failure cost him a sweep…..The playoffs before…..Same results….Before that…Same results….Before that ….Same results…….Chicago also went on a huge run last season….What was the result?….Champion Dan all you want but with that roster their achievements have been a failure and those contracts aren’t getting any younger….Also as far as defense they are not that great….7 players with positive +/-…..11 with a negative and 7 even …….Sorry but that does not say the D has been good!

      • whammy71 - Nov 18, 2013 at 12:20 PM

        Can’t believe I’m agreeing with a Philly fan…but I am.

        I mentioned that the Pens aren’t getting any younger several weeks ago and got laughed at – but BAOFL is spot on with his Pens assesment.

        Bylsma is a square peg – round hole type of coach and you can’t simply let your talent override your short commings. It may work in college and juniors…but not in the pros.

      • burgh916 - Nov 18, 2013 at 12:36 PM

        Agreeing with BO as well. It may in fact be a little early to fire him, but if this keeps up, I would. We look just like the Boston series, besides Sid. Gain the zone, shoot on net, no traffic. Rinse repeat. If that’s not a coaches job to change that I don’t know what is. But, he hasn’t, and they still do it. Probably one of the most aggravating things about watching our offense, shots from everywhere, easy saves for the goalie.

      • hockey412 - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        I think it’s incredible, that a coach that has been to the playoffs every year since he’s been there, and has put up the win % numbers he has, has Pens fans agreeing with a Flyers fan hahahaha…ok you guys go ahead and plan his execution. I’m going to go ahead and cheer on the team that is second in the division still…

        I agree that Bylsma needs to adjust more – but disagree that he isn’t a good coach or that he should be fired. Who’s better, out there? No one that is actually coaching (if you rely on things like stats/logic).

      • whammy71 - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:45 PM

        You’d be more correct if this was just any team. It’s not. It’s a team built to win a Cup. They’ve failed now for many seasons…but the reasons they fail are the same – and outside of getting Scuds back – haven’t really done anything to say otherwise moving forward.

      • hockey412 - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:59 PM

        4. They failed for 4 seasons, numbskull.

        And in case you haven’t noticed…there are many other teams built to win the cup too. Chicago? Boston? Any of this ringing a bell to you?

      • jpelle82 - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:59 PM

        you know, philly fans are quick to call into question the penguins fanbase’s loyalty and i’m all of a sudden sitting here realizing why they might be able to form such an opinion. you guys are acting like the sky is falling because they’ve dropped 4 of the last 5 games. the pens are an overtime loss away from first despite the fact they’ve lost 4 out of 5. the 2012 mvp hasnt scored a goal in 12 games but is still scoring more points than 95% of the league. the special teams are top ten in both categories, top ten in hits and top ten in fewest giveaways, they’re 4th in faceoff percentage, 1st in times shorthanded…these are signs of good coaching and disciplined hockey…attention to detail. would like to see more takeaways and more shots but they are top ten in missed shots too so cant complain too much about the quality of shots they are taking. i’m just surprised you guys are so up in arms in november, all things considered.

      • whammy71 - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:47 PM

        what’s the saying….insanity is doing the same thing over and over hoping for different results.

        Its not that the Pens should win every year…but they’ve had pretty huge meltdowns in the playoffs since they last won the Cup.

        Lose to the 8th seeded Habs after leading the series 3-2
        Lose to Tampa after being up 3-1
        Lose to Philly in embarrassing fashion 4-2 (let’s remember that the Pens had early leads in the first 2 games).
        Get swept by Boston and score what, 2 goals.

        4 years in a row…crappy exists….its not a lack of talent – it’s a lack of leadership.

    • c9castine - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:26 PM

      i can see how from the outside you might think that but its pretty far off. obviously the Pens aren’t perfect and we have a lot of players slumping right now and the team as a whole isn’t quite clicking at the moment. you of all people should know much of this game is up to the players actually executing the way they are coached and executing to their own personal talent level. your still watching the ups and downs of that in Philly. but we should remember the Pens are still 12-8 and its mid-November. this isn’t like when Therien got fired it was almost February the team was .500 and out of the playoffs and they stopped playing for Therien. The Pens are still 100% bought into Bylsma and each other.

      • blackandorangeforlife - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:48 PM

        Well if they dont figures it out they will be .500 soon….Jpelle posted above “overtime loss away from first”….They have been in 1st all season by a good margin (not sure what the largest was) but a good bit in front yet in the last 10 they have managed to lose that and drop to second….Terrian was only 2 games below .500.when he was fired.and on the hot seat long before they dropped below .500….Sorry but that roster is way too good to be playing like they are!

      • c9castine - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:05 PM

        yep. agree with all that. i just maintain Bylsma is here to stay, because its not him.

        chicago got toasted by nashville the other night. they made some lineup changes that i think could help tonight…so lets see what happens.

        otherwise, we are both gonna be middle of the packers, a position neither one of us is real familiar with.

  3. steelers88 - Nov 18, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    Blackandorangeforlife
    I totally agree Byslma is so stubborn and his system has been figured out by the NHL. His system has become stale with his players. One more month of this crap and say hello to head coach Jaques Martin.

    • whammy71 - Nov 18, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      I don’t think the Pens will pull the trigger on Bylsma until after the Olympics – especially with Shero being the Assistant GM too.

      • hockey412 - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:46 PM

        Steelers88 hates the Pens, by the way…and this is one of the stupidest ideas I’ve ever heard.

  4. whammy71 - Nov 18, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    “will” should have been “would”…

  5. blackandorangeforlife - Nov 18, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Like i posted above my comment was not made as a hater but as a Hockey fan in general and what i have seen
    Look at the firing of Lavy…..Last season Jeff Freese said Lavy was not implementing his suggestions concerning D and the way they played in front of the Goalies…..Lavy got fired and the result was the Players and the rest of the coaches saying the same things…..Lavy didnt take heed of their advice and he lost the whole team (including coaching staff)…..Martin is an assistant and i dont understand why they hired him…..Nothing has changed about the way they play…Nothing…….Yes the D has been a tad better…..But that was with a healthy Scuds and Letang on IR….Now it is reversed and not looking too good….To me (a Hockey fan) Dan is not taking their advice or so it seems,,,,Seriously how does a roster that loaded go 5-5 while playing mostly mediocre teams?….Because other teams know what the Pens play is and are taking advantage of the fact there are no adjustments being made!

    • hockey412 - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:10 PM

      OK – but these are all just generalizations made by a casual hockey fan. Money where your mouth is….what “advice” did Marten give that Bylsma ignored? If you don’t know of any, don’t say it.

      What “adjustments” need made? If you don’t know, don’t say it.

      The Pens have been through this before…actually it seems like once a year. It doesn’t take a coaching change (eliminating the winningest active head coach from your team is a great idea though, thanks), or a coaching “adjustment”, outside of line shuffling. They need to “do better”, period. Not too many takeaways this year…the forwards are pressing way too hard out of frustration, not backchecking near enough and caught out of position, but they are getting their shots.

      • blackandorangeforlife - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:27 PM

        “If you don’t know, don’t say it”…..Your correct in that i am assuming……But what else would i do when nothing that i can see has changed?……The team does not play Team D…..Instead they wait for a breakdown, Errant pass, or just a dumb give away and try and pounce on it (run and gun)
        Again i didnt make this post as a hater just an (unbiased if you can believe that) observer
        Let me posit you this….Pens win the conference…..They are the hottest team entering the playoffs then they get embarrassed again (out coached)….Do you still stand behind Dan or wish a change was made?….Keep in mind in this senerio that roster just lost another season age wise!

      • hockey412 - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:57 PM

        Riiiight….but what you’ve posted there about waiting for a breakdown isn’t the Pens system…it’s a trap. And that IS team D…and that ISN’T the Pens system. They will allow outside cycling, to a certain extent, as will most teams. They are FOURTH in the league in Shots Against Avg, which is definitely improved from last year. A lot of goals against come on broken plays and giveaways…these things are not part of any coaches “system”. Therefore, a change in coach will not stop them. Capisce? There is a former Art Ross winner not scoring…hmmmm…yes let’s change the coach instead of waiting for that machine to get going…sorry, bud. None of this crap is anything more than BS.

      • blackandorangeforlife - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:38 PM

        P,S….I dont know many casual fans in the States that watch every game they can…..Break down stats and analyze like i do and try not to let bias be a factor……Pretty sure i am far more than a casual fan!

      • hockey412 - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        Fair enough. You are also an idiot :)

      • blackandorangeforlife - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:20 PM

        It’s all good…Al Morganti told me the same thing last pre-season when i said the Isles would make the playoffs!

      • blackandorangeforlife - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:30 PM

        “it’s a trap”….More like a left wing lock which was designed to allow breakouts and odd man rushes courtesy of long ice passes after drawing the opposing forwards out of position…..Is that not what i have been watching?….pretty sure that has been the Pens M.O for the last few seasons
        Only it does not work when good defensive teams are aware going into the game and plan accordingly…..Again is my TV lying to me?……It’s not my eyes (checked 2 months ago and still 20/20)…..Is that not how the Bruins and Flyers tore them apart the last 2 playoffs?…..Flyers only won (dominated) because they played the same style but didnt let the between the whistles stuff get in the way……Notice what happens when the Pens play run and gun teams like the Flyers were….Or when the D is ready for it?

      • hockey412 - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:13 PM

        Good research done quickly (sort of) but you have your facts a little bit confused. A third player back on D and forcing the puck to the outside doesn’t consitute ‘waiting for an errant pass’ to pounce on. Watch and see how many of those long counter-attack passes you see tonight (that’s not run and gun, by the way)…won’t be many. Pens CAN play run and gun, but they try to avoid it. That’s the point. Also, how did Boston beat the Pens by beating the lock? What did they do that was beating it? I actually disagree that they needed to stop dropping the wing…in that series they didn’t give Boston too many opportunities, but Boston took advantage of what they did give. The adjustments I was referring to were in the offensive zone, where they were shooting from and where they were positioned. You are correct – Philly did NOT beat the Pens by beating the lock.

    • c9castine - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:33 PM

      the first 8 games of the season, the pens defensive play and team play was friggin outstanding. they went 7-1 and were scoring. you can tell there were a lot of adjustment made. then they ran into colorado. they DOMINATED colorado and allowed them to get only 14 shots on net and out attempted them 72-29. but somehow they lost 1-0. since then, i agree with you to an extent….they reverted back to their old ways like a child, trying long stretch passes and waiting for opportunities instead of dictating the play they way they should. they have played one thoroughly good game since then and that was against boston in a win.

      some questions can’t be answered. this team has mystified me for a few years now with the way they can be an unstoppable force and then a dormant lethargic whisper from one game to the next.

      like i said though, not even 1/4 way through the season yet.

      • blackandorangeforlife - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        Right now it’s because teams (coaches) have figured them out…..If you dont deviate from time to time that will happen and that is Dans problem…he wont deviate (adjust) so teams no how to contain them better at this point…..Especially when the left wing lock is employed….It can be easily beaten if you prepare for it unless the team employing it is great at it and has D men waiting for the return up ice….Thus it will never work correctly with a player like Letang who is always jumping in on plays…..also it does not seem that Dan is holding anyone accountable…..Do you scratch a Malkin?……No but you can drop him down to the 3rd -4th line for a game or two to send a message!….Again he does not adjust well and imho the Pens wont win another cup with that lack of adjustment…..Everyone knows how the Pens play at this point and are shutting down the areas of ice the Pens used to dominate!

      • c9castine - Nov 18, 2013 at 6:26 PM

        dude why would you scratch malkin???? he’s two time scoring champ and MVP and conn smythe winner who still has 18 points in 20 games. its not like he’s friggin dany heatley or something….

        we were having a good hockey conversation until you started talking about conspiracy theories and scratching malkin. i NEVER suggested scratching giroux and he is playing WAY worse. thats silly, who you gonna replace him with? jayson megna??

  6. hazlydose - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    The Pens finally made the lineup changes they needed to make. Sid between Kunitz and Bennett and Malkin between Duper and Neal. Duper adds the forecheck and speed the Malkin and Neal line needs. I’m kind of surprised that Kunitz wasn’t the one swapped out because of the past success on the Malkin line but its obvious the Crosby prefers Kunitz as his winger.

    • c9castine - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      thanks for informing me of that. as creative and dangerous as joking/malkin/neal can be, they are having a hard time possessing the puck. Duper will certainly help that a bit, and give the line some grit.

  7. hazlydose - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    The Pens finally made the lineup changes they needed to make. Sid between Kunitz and Bennett and Malkin between Duper and Neal. Duper adds the forecheck and speed the Malkin and Neal line needs. I’m kind of surprised that Kunitz wasn’t the one swapped out because of the past success on the Malkin line but its obvious that Crosby prefers Kunitz as his winger.

  8. steelers88 - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    Hockey412.
    The problem is that the Penguins were in first by a lot of points now they are in second place.

  9. steelers88 - Nov 18, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    I kind of give the penguins some slack for the first two years. The first year they ran up against a hot goalie in Halak and the Penguins went to the Stanley Cup Finals back to back years before the Canadiens series and they looked tired. The Lightning series they were without Crosby and Malkin. The last two years however have been total meltdowns. I didn’t want Byslma back after last years debacle and they brought him back. Ray Shero is to loyal to his players and his head coach. Byslma didn’t really even win a cup with his players he won it with Thereien’s players.

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