PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Penguins are a franchise usually fond of ‘back-to-back’ situations; four of their five Stanley Cup Championships came one season after the other.
So far through the 2022-23 season, however, the Penguins have struggled with back-to-back games.
The Penguins have had six back-to-back scenarios and are a lowly 1-4-1 in second games.
“It’s hard on these guys,” goalie Casey DeSmith said. “We played great last night, I thought. We played really hard. I know fatigue is a real thing.”
Under 24 hours before puck drop against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Penguins were sealing a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
DeSmith was arguably the best player for the Penguins against the Maple Leafs, due in no small part to being the most rested.
The Penguins may have lost 4-1 to the Maple Leafs, but DeSmith faced 41 shots and tried his best to keep the team close.
Sloppy defensive play by the Penguins allowed the high flying Maple Leafs offense to dominate all game long.
Maple Leafs goalie Erik Kallgren had an easy night, as well, with the Penguins offense falling flat for a majority of the game.
The Penguins only recorded five shots in the first period and 26 in total while only finding the back of the net once.
On all sides of the puck, the Penguins just looked gassed and couldn’t answer to anything the Maple Leafs threw at them.
Despite the brutal record in second half situations, head coach Mike Sullivan is confident they can find improved levels of play down the line.
“The sample size is pretty small,” Sullivan said. “It might be difficult to draw any conclusions from that. We need to be better.”
The Penguins have nine back-to-back scenarios left to grind through this season; it’s not an easy trek, but there is still plenty of time to find a rhythm in those situations.
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