All losses in the NHL are not created equal. It’s a long season, and best when steering the ship as a head coach to not let the highs get too high or the lows. Prior to last night, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan hasn’t been too upset with his team’s performances, even after losses. The efforts weren’t terrible, the results weren’t what they wanted- up until the game against the Blues.
The Pens’ coach let the team have it, in way he seldom does through the media. Sullivan also leveled one of the biggest and most offensive claims against a hockey team, he questioned their effort saying that they didn’t play hard enough.
Coach Sullivan: "We didn't play hard enough. We didn't play smart enough. We got what we deserved... We gave them way too many chances off the rush because we did play with the purpose that we need to play with in the offensive zone, whether it be with the puck or without it." pic.twitter.com/6wVMnlri7w— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 22, 2023
Sullivan’s words show a coach trying to find a way to get his team to perform. He used his timeout early last night to lace into his team verbally, he wasn’t letting an assistant handling the messaging, the head coach was getting after it himself. It was hard not to notice coming out of the time the team’s first line and top defensive pair immediately stumbled and gave up another scoring chance from right in front of the net. It was a perfect moment to sum up the frustration of an off night.
A team widely expected to be in fourth or fifth place in their division stands to lose a bunch of games over the season. But they have to get on track and win a lot as well. The Pens sit at just 2-3-0 in the first five games, though they’ve played three in the road. The good news is they go back home for an extended period, but the bad news is the schedule has a few quality teams coming to the ‘Burgh next week in Dallas. Colorado and even those pesky Ottawa Senators. The three next opponents have a combined record of 11-2-1 to start the year.
“I don’t know yet. I gotta digest it first,” Sullivan said in the aftermath of the game when asked about his power play woes. He could have been talking about any number of subjects regarding his team right now.