Full, open and essential disclaimer: Patric Hornqvist is exempt from absolutely every syllable I'm about to type.
All clear on that, right?
OK, here goes: These Penguins have become a maddeningly inconsistent mess, and we're well past the point where significant accountability must be applied.
No, not just because they lazed through a 4-2 loss to the upstart Ducks on this Monday night at PPG Paints Arena. Nor because it saw their third blown two-goal lead in as many games. Nor because they committed two lousy penalties to turn the tide. Nor, even, because they're incapable of sustaining success of any kind for more than a couple days.
No, it's actually all of that. And more. And less.
And it's maybe all the more discouraging at this stage that no one involved can seem to come close to pinpointing a problem, much less addressing it.
Evgeni Malkin gave it a shot: "I think it's our problem this year, like we score a couple goals, and we try, like, play casually, you know? We need to understand, we play against a good team, and they try to come back. We play at home, we need to control game. We take a couple bad penalties, and they change the game quick."
Hey, he speaks his second language better than I do, and he still couldn't have pushed his meaning across better. That is, if we're talking about one game.
But sorry, this can't be about seeking comfort in isolation. They've done this same stupid stuff in Newark, Ottawa, Denver, Chicago and, more than anywhere, right here. This was the Penguins' 33rd game and, at 15-12-6, they've now lost three more than they've won. They're ninth in the Eastern Conference, a slot outside the playoff picture. They can't score consistently, can't defend consistently, can't tend goal consistently, can't apply a system consistently ... man, they can't even try consistently.