The Penguins have given up a ton of odd-man breaks during their ongoing slide.
Fans complain about defensemen pinching ineffectively, but the problem is the high forward. The F3. The F3 is cheating on the offensive side of the puck and/or doesn’t get back efficiently. That causes problems beyond the odd-man breaks.
Look at Washington’s first goal Saturday: Nic Dowd is all by himself in front of Penguins goalie Matt Murray. The defensemen (Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang) are below the goal line. But they’re doing their job. They’re hunting the puck. Each is with a man.
The F3 – in this case Sam Lafferty – shuts down. He didn’t find his man, and certainly had time. Teddy Blueger hastens to cover for Lafferty, but couldn’t get there.
Lafferty got scratched Sunday vs. Carolina, and rightly so. If you’re a borderline player that’s lucky to be on the team, let alone in the lineup, you can’t freeze and cost your team a goal, especially just 112 seconds into a critical game.
Thumbnail Courtesy of Getty Images.