news world

Yohe’s 10 observations: Tristan Jarry, the city of Pittsburgh turns its lonely eyes to you

Louis Domingue has been a sublime story and has done pretty well in this series, given his pedigree and the circumstances.

But it would appear only Tristan Jarry can save the Penguins now.

Domingue has allowed four or more goals in four of his five starts in this series and allowed Chris Kreider’s putrid game-winner in the final 90 seconds of regulation Friday at PPG Paints Arena to gift wrap the Rangers a 5-3 victory in Game 6 of the roller-coaster first-round series.

Game 7 will be played Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Two questions will dominate the headlines before the game:

  • Will Jarry return to the net for the Penguins?
  • Will Sidney Crosby be able to play?

There is ample reason to at least speculate whether Jarry and Crosby can play. Jarry has been skating for nearly a week and has been facing shots in practice the past few days. He is more than four weeks removed from breaking a bone in his foot against the Islanders.

Then there is Crosby. The Penguins’ captain suffered a concussion Wednesday in Game 5, courtesy of a hit from Jacob Trouba. This is the fourth known concussion of Crosby’s career and, given his history with head injuries, it could easily be assumed he won’t be cleared for Sunday’s game. And perhaps he won’t be.

However, the fact that Crosby skated on his own Friday morning offers hope. Also, there is a precedent here. In 2017, Crosby suffered a concussion at the hands of Matt Niskanen and Alex Ovechkin against the Capitals in Game 3 of that series. He returned to the lineup in Game 5, though it should be noted there were two days between Games 4 and 5.

Even without Jarry and Crosby, the Penguins had their chances to win Friday.

Jeff Carter and Bryan Rust scored in the first period to put the Penguins ahead 2-0.

However, Mika Zibanejad scored twice to even the game and Kreider gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead, giving the Penguins another demoralizing second period.

Late in the second, though, Evgeni Malkin, who was perhaps playing his final game in Pittsburgh, scored a dramatic breakaway goal to even the game.

The Penguins played a nearly flawless third period until a horrible misplay from Domingue did them in.

10 postgame observations

• It’s hard being critical of Domingue. He’s a fringe NHL goaltender, and those guys aren’t going to shut down teams like the Rangers, who, despite their flaws, certainly possess serious NHL talent.

Domingue helped the Penguins get this far, but he’s just not a guy who is going to lead a team on a run through the Stanley Cup playoffs. He picked a particularly terrible time to allow the final goal. Kreider made contact with the shot, but it was an offering that even a third-string goaltender is going to stop about 95 percent of the time. Just a horrible, horrible goal.

I don’t know how Domingue can recover from this one. He’s already cursed with physical limitations. His mindset can’t be good these days. How do you feel about him thriving in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden? Same here.

• It’s a tough spot for Jarry. First, we must consider his health. If he’s not medically cleared for game action, then that’s that. You can’t really fight it.

However, he’s been on the ice for a while now, so I believe there is a reasonable chance he plays Sunday. That will give us a different kind of theater. Put yourselves in Jarry’s shoes for a minute: You were embarrassed last season in the playoffs against the Islanders. You’ve heard for the past 12 months that you’re not the guy in the playoffs, that you don’t have the answers. You’ve been motivated by this. It’s made you better. You made it to the NHL All-Star Game. Then you broke your foot and never got the chance to strut your stuff in the playoffs.

Except, maybe you do. But you don’t get a best-of-seven. You get once chance. At the Garden. Game 7. You’re rusty. The Rangers are talented. The whole hockey world is watching.

The series has had everything else, so why not? I don’t envy Jarry. Some will choose to destroy him if he plays and loses.

But if health isn’t an issue, he simply needs to play.

• Evan Rodrigues was the biggest culprit in this loss, even more than Domingue. The penalty he took in the second period was beyond unacceptable.

Ryan Lindgren hit Rodrigues from behind. It absolutely should have been a penalty. It wasn’t called because, frankly, the Penguins were winning 2-0. Sure, it’s ridiculous, but if you’ve ever been exposed to NHL officiating, you know the drill. Rodrigues, outraged that no penalty was called, hit Lindgren high and took a penalty. Five seconds later, Zibanejad scored a power-play goal.

It was a selfish penalty for Rodrigues to take. More than anything, it was soft.

The Penguins are clearly the better five-on-five team. You can’t give the Rangers power plays. Just horrible.

Making matters worse, this penalty impacted Rodrigues. He was poor the rest of the game.

• It was a great night for Malkin. I really loved his game. He moved seamlessly onto the top line with Jake Guentzel and Rust, and he was one of the game’s best players.

Malkin’s breakaway goal was really special. It gave me a flashback to Mario Lemieux’s famous breakaway goal in 1997 against Philadelphia in what, at the time, was his final home goal.

You knew it was going in when Malkin broke past Trouba. It was a great moment for Malkin and a strong performance.

• Kasperi Kapanen has been getting a lot of buzz for his play in this series and, for the most part, I’d agree that he was pretty good in most of this series.

Not in Game 6. I really disliked his game. He was hesitant taking shots all night, getting them blocked frequently. Most of the Penguins were good in this game, but I didn’t like what I saw from Rodrigues, Kapanen or Danton Heinen.

Jason Zucker has been a treasure in this series. I’m getting a little tired of people mocking him for “always getting hurt.”

No, he’s not that injury-prone. In reality, he’s been playing with the same injury most of the season. He’s playing hurt. He was grimacing again on the bench in Game 6, something that’s become commonplace.

Yet he keeps on ticking. Not only does he keep playing, but Zucker is throwing his body around like a madman. He was credited with a team-high five hits and was a constant source of energy. He’s been huge for the Penguins and is playing through a lot of pain. Good on him.

• Carter had his best game of the series. He has been a step slow defensively, but that wasn’t the case Friday. He used his large body effectively down low.

There appears to be legitimate chemistry between Zucker and Carter. If the Penguins could ever get healthy, these two would give them two-thirds of a pretty darn good third line. I realize Carter didn’t play well during the second half of the season, but that’s four goals in six games for him in this series. He’s always going to show up in big games, and Zucker has helped him a great deal.

• The Penguins had a five-on-three power play in the second period when the game was tied 2-2. It was yet another embarrassing effort from the Penguins’ top power play, the second time in as many games that they’ve looked utterly dysfunctional with the two-man advantage.

There are many issues here, and it’s been going on for years. The two things I see: First, the Penguins play on the perimeter way too much instead of caving defenses in. It’s ridiculous, really.

Secondly, Kris Letang, who otherwise played a good game, never shoots in these situations. And I mean never. Other teams know this, and it makes their jobs so much easier. They can always play pass. And they do.

• Mike Matheson took a four-minute high-sticking penalty that led to a goal. You’ve got to be more careful, obviously.

But he was pretty spectacular most of the evening. His skating in the third period was something to see.

• Here are a handful of observations for you to finish things off. … Give the Rangers some credit here. They looked dead in the water two games in a row but found a way back. … Trouba was a minus-3 and played a very poor game. … Guentzel was spectacular. … Rust hit the post with a wide-open look in the third period, one that might hurt for a while. … Brian Boyle didn’t return after getting hurt in the first period. … The Penguins were the better team most of the night, particularly in the first and third periods. … Buckle up for Sunday.

(Photo of game-winning goal: Kirk Irwin / Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button