Penguins defense hangs Brad Thiessen out to dry in 8-4 loss to Senators

Mar 24, 2012; Ottawa, ON, CAN; Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke (24) controls the puck as he is defended by Ottawa Senators defenseman Filip Kuba (17) in the first period at Scotiabank Place. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-US PRESSWIRE

Brad Thiessen really isn't that good. An upgrade over Brent Johnson, he is not. Not yet, at least.

Thiessen's not awful, he's not beyond repair. He's just not a guy you want to rely on in a time of need. Need bailed out? He's not posting bail. Maybe he'll be the designated driver, or he'll let you use him as a reliable fall-back excuse to your wife, "Yeah honey, we definitely didn't go to wherever it is you think I shouldn't go, we were at Brad Thiessen's house playing Settlers of Catan and drinking Zima."

So, it's kind of key, just after your captain narrows a two-goal deficit to a one-goal deficit to not surrender a breakaway. To Jason Spezza. Which Thiessen probably can't save. And doesn't.

Or, when you get a power play opportunity shortly after, you don't leave Evgeni Malkin as your lone man back defending a two-on-one rush, and force him to take a penalty while defending it.. Malkin's a wonderful player, and improving in the defensive zone... he's not wonderful at defending odd-man rushes while skating backwards.

So yeah, there were some problems. And the Penguins lost by a bunch, 8-4, reflecting how those problems ruined them in the end, and giving two valuable points to a Senators squad clinging to its spot as the seventh seed in the east with just six games remaining.

The Pens, meanwhile, fall three points behind the New York Rangers, making the propositions of the flightless birds nabbing the top seed in the East all the more unlikely with eight games left.

But there were positives. Can't overlook the positives. Matt Cooke bagged a pair of goals. He's up to 19, one away from 20.

Matt Cooke. Twenty-goal scorer. Say it again. Savor it.

He's greatly benefited from being on the same line as returning playmaker supreme, Sidney Crosby, who finally scored his first goal since returning from his second prolonged spell recovering from post-concussion syndrome.

But Cooke's been a solid offensive contributor all season, so we can't place too much importance on Crosby's return in this regard. Crosby has been great at accelerating the offense for Cooke -- a lot -- but Cooke's been able to showcase his playing ability significantly more now that he's not busy twiddling his thumbs in the penalty box or serving a suspension in press row anymore.

And the Penguins are still very, very good. This type of result can happen to aggressive teams with back-ups in the net while trying to overcome a deficit. You don't have to like it, and you rightly shouldn't. But you shouldn't be surprised when it happens.

Also, on a non-Penguins note, it's nice to see Craig Anderson's return to form in Ottawa, after falling off of the map in Colorado last season. Anderson hasn't been perfect, but he's been solid. After coming in for an injured Ben Bishop, Anderson played well in relief, and was one of the main reasons the Senators were able to stabilize in the defensive zone and take the game to the Penguins

Don't turn your television off for too long. The Pens will be back on the ice in less than 24 hours, when they host the Devils at the CONSOL Energy Center at 7:00.

Safe to say, there should be less scoring. Should be.

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