Let’s face it – this is not earth shattering or ground breaking news but the Pittsburgh Penguins have a colossal problem in the net.
Fresh off another series defeat by the hands of the New York Islanders, this series loss may sting a bit more than the previous which was a quick sweep 2 postseasons ago. This one stings more because they weren’t outmatched, outworked and outperformed in every aspect as they were in the sweep they just had one looming large problem – Tristan Jarry.
Jarry singlehandedly lost the Penguins each game in this series, this is not rocket science nor is it just pointing fingers; its just stating the obvious. Game 1 for instance is the immediate thought and while the Kyle Palmieri goals were a thing of beauty, an average goaltender at best is able to cover the net appropriately on the angle so those pucks have no shot of going in. Game 2 featured the Tristan Jarry that should be the norm but for whatever reason it’s not there nearly enough and the Penguins were able to hold on for the win. Game 3 saw the Penguins pull away with the win but not after Jarry seemed to try and hand it back at every turn. Face it the only reason the Penguins pulled 2 wins out of this series is because New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz played Semyon Varlamov, who struggled towards the end of the season in the two games over Illya Sorokin who dazzled in the net. Back on the games and we all know the end results. In Game 5 with the Penguins up midway through the third, Jarry was dangled out of his jockstrap by Jordan Eberle in an embarrassing attempt at attacking the player to force a shot he effectively took himself out of position. While you can point to earlier in the play and say that the defense did not help much, sometimes you just need your goalie to make a stop and that simply never happened. Move into overtime and we all know the beer league play that happened. It was in that moment that the door had unofficially closed on the Penguins for moving forward.
In the postseason, there were only 4 goaltenders who had worse numbers than Jarry – Sergei Bobrovsky, Chris Driedger, Semyon Varlamov and the new Matt Murray – Jordan Binnington. None of those teams outside of the Islanders moved on in their respective playoff series.
While keeping Matt Murray was not a solid option either as he was abysmal for the Ottawa Senators this season, the Penguins window will surely slam shut if they do not address the problem in the offseason. The fact that the previous front office weakened the crease by opting for Murray over Marc-Andre Fluery and then doubling down on Tristan Jarry is almost unthinkable. Adding the countless moves Jim Rutherford was never afraid to make yet only weakened by blueline in tandem is pure insanity.
Luckily for the Penguins, Ron Hextall and Brian Burke are now at the helm and are likely going to get to work on fixing the asteroid of a problem that is derailing the contender window. With the Penguins core up front and a few tweaks to the blueline, they should be right back up there at the top of the division if they can fix the issue in net. This is not a new phenomenon or a quick pull on the trigger. The Penguins have been plagued with large goaltending issues for the past 4 seasons. If the front office, Sidney Crosby and Co. want another shot at winning the Stanley Cup, they need to fix this problem now which is easier said than done… Whether the Penguins believe Casey DeSmith is the answer long term for the club is the first step in addressing the blackhole that has been the postseason crease for the club.Embed from Getty Images