The Pittsburgh Penguins may be playing the season a little close to the chest as they gear up for another Stanley Cup run. But, how can they call themselves contenders if they are great at home and mediocre on the road?
Why are wins so hard for the Pens to get on the road when they are the defending champs?
The Pens are the man of the house in the NHL. When they sit down for dinner, they get the big piece of meat, the extra spoon full of spaghetti and the last two cold beers in the fridge, they earned it. But, when they visit family, they are the one that everyone else is trying to outdo. A show has to be made how every family member is doing better than them. Cousins wear their best outfits, get their cars detailed, all to show the Pens that they too can shine.
That’s how the Pens feel when they hit the road. At home, it’s defending your turf, the place where the cup resides. But, on the road, everyone is against you. You can give your all but the home team, the crowd, and just the atmosphere are entirely different. The Pens should be used to this as they won 22 games on the road during the regular season and another seven during the playoffs.
It’s easier said than done but the Pens must treat road games as home games.
This is not a young team, the Pens are veterans that know better. We’re almost at the mid-point of the season and 10 road wins is not putting the fear in opponents. The champs are supposed to invoke fear, not give hope when opponents see the visitor’s bus pull up to the stadium. This is when Sidney Crosby has to take charge and demand more from his teammates. It’s weird because his stats are better on the road than at home but he’s not getting the help.
Evgeni Malkin has been an embarrassment on the road. At home, he has scored 34 points with a plus/minus of 12, while on the road his numbers have dropped like the stock market. Malkin has a plus/minus of even (thanks to Friday’s game) with only 18 points. His TOI is considerably low due to his struggles but the Pens need his production to pick up.
Hockey is a team sport that’s played with precision and skill. If one fails, you can lean on the other. This is a lesson the Pens must master on the road if a repeat is part of the plan.