Penguins Deficiencies Grow; Season at Crossroads
Connect with us

Penguins

Deficiencies Grow; Penguins Season at Crossroads

Published

on

The playoffs are no longer a certainty for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The team, like its offensive production, is sinking and answers are few. Tonight, the Penguins play the Philadelphia Flyers, and the loser will occupy Last place in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins. Last place. Things are that bad.

The Flyers, after a 10 game losing streak have surged. The Hurricanes are rising. Even the Florida Panthers are just two points behind the Penguins with two games in hand.

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions are under .500, 19-18-3. In December, the Penguins didn’t beat a playoff team in regulation. They have lost three of their last four games. General Manager Jim Rutherford’s threatened shakeup hasn’t yet occurred, though the addition of defenseman Jamie Oleksiak will give the Penguins more options as Letang and Schultz return shortly.

Against surging division rival Carolina Hurricanes, Friday, the Penguins were dominated. Sunday, against sagging the Eastern Conference foe Detroit Red Wings, the Penguins pressured but managed only a power-play goal in a 4-1 loss.

The Penguins no longer have the luxury of waiting.

It’s time to aid weary hearts, aching legs, and sticks gripped too tightly. It’s time to embrace an identity and feed into it. Or, its time to accept this season will end in April, in the regular season or first round of the playoffs.

Acceptance isn’t necessarily the worst thing. In fact, it may be the best thing for 2019.

Big Picture–Help

The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs are excellent teams. Tampa Bay is perhaps a great team.

Even with a shakeup, could the Penguins compete? With the right jostling of their roster, yes. With a vanilla shakeup, no.

So, the Penguins are no longer in full control of their fate. They not only must overcome teams such as the Flyers, Hurricanes, and New York Islanders to make the playoffs, they must find a trade partner willing to make the two-time Stanley Cup champions better. 

Against playoff caliber teams, the Penguins roster is proving it isn’t capable of sustained offensive pressure, adequate offensive production or protecting its zone from an offensive rush in great enough measure to earn victories.

Injured? You need a lawyer. Call Joshua R. Lamm.

The only measure in which the Penguins are excelling is the suppression of dirty play. They don’t yet appear willing to trade that for a few more goals-for.

Penguins Shakeup Untouchables

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Murray and probably Phil Kessel are the untouchables. Everyone else is fair game. Kris Letang is not on the block according to sources, but he’s also not untouchable.

The Penguins do not have the luxury of emotional attachments or to play to fan loyalties, as they have done in the past. Players like Jake Guentzel, Conor Sheary, and Daniel Sprong are the Penguins best trade chips. Ian Cole and one of the Penguins defensemen, such as Brian Dumoulin or Olli Maatta, are the others.

It’s easy to proffer names like Carl Hagelin, but unless the NHL GM’s have a bar crawl, beer pong tournament Hagelin will not fetch a significant enough return which will affect change (Perhaps Brian Burke’s tie would remain tied for the entire event).

One could only imagine Twitter in 1992 if Mark Recchi and Paul Coffey were floated as trade potentials. As it were, my high school cafeteria was divided between those who recognized what Rick Tocchet brought and the sentimental who simultaneously deplored Tocchet’s Flyer heritage and losing skill players.

PHN will be comparing 1992 and 2017 later this week.

Going Forward

The Penguins are what they are. Their record is indicative of their team. The Penguins are now a superstar-laden team but are missing the sparks of success.

Based on Jim Rutherford’s comments over the past two months, the Penguins are still shopping for a third line center, wingers with bulk, and are looking to tweak their defense.

You’ll find no argument here.

Also, there is little roster competition which spurred the Penguins in 2016 and little hunger for greatness which propelled them last year. The 2017 Penguins were great and still enjoyed the challenge.

They are no longer a great team. Perhaps Daniel Sprong and Dominik Simon will inject some roster competition. Possibly Carl Hagelin’s recent jump will continue, and he will be the player he was in 2016.

Maybe the return of Justin Schultz and Letang will jumpstart the Penguins offense like a bolt of lightning.

And, perhaps the Penguins will find that missing spark which allows them to make additions instead of wholesale changes. However, with each game they are falling further behind; their hole dug deeper. The time left to figure things out is coming to a close.

The competition is not waiting.

The season is at a crossroads. Waiting until the trade deadline in seven weeks could render the decision moot. Rutherford made the threat. Now it’s time to follow through, or accept the limitations of this team.

Subscribe to PHN Extra

Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. B

    January 2, 2018 at 1:50 am

    To me 87, 71,81,30 ,72 ,59, 3, 4 ,8 And 17 are untouchables
    I would keep Hagelin because he great very awesome on all parts of the rink even tho he is not a goal scorer and he will never be that. He does the small things that help the team win. Keep him.He proves that every game especially the way he cover for Sprong in the Detroit game.
    Sheary needs to be traded ASAP. He isn’t a top winger nor bottom 6 winger. To much inconsistent. Lost. He doesn’t mesh well with Sid nor Jake. He not the real deal. He looks ok because Sheahan doesn’t pass the puck effectively to create offense.
    He is not valuable like Rust and Jake is..
    Matt Hunwick needs to be traded too. Bad Signing. He god awful. He brutal on the Left and the right sides. He is not the veteran d the Pens need in their system .
    Cole should stay and get sign a deal that cheap for 3-4 years . I know he wants to stay. I never thought GMJR would trade him. All gossip because of the media.
    Letang need to be traded asap
    No more untouchable for him.
    Once Rutherford can pull off trade for Letang,Sheary and Hunwick. I believe this team can be better. 3 C . Depth D. Instead of new winger I would try to get 3 back up goalie because of Murray injures and to keep him fresh..
    Once Defense is healthy
    Dumoulin-Shultz
    Maatta-Oleksiak
    Cole Rudwedeel
    You can flip the bottom 4 D parings Either way.
    Sid and Geno is the key for offense while Shultz and Dumoulin is the for defense. They can jumpstart it with Phil Jake and Sprong .
    Idk I believe once forwards are healthy plus trades it can be
    Jake/Sid/ Rust or Jake/Sid/Sprong
    Sprong/Geno/Kessell or Rust/Geno/Kessell
    Hagelin/3C /Hornqvist
    Sheahan/Rowney/Reaves or Kuchnachl/Rowney/Sheahan
    Idk Long as Letang and Hunwick is gone . Sheary as well. It gotta be something Rutherford can get for them.

  2. B

    January 2, 2018 at 2:14 am

    Oh Yeah. Sheary was never a fit for Sid. Sid ‘s face expressions tell it all. He constantly happens to tell Sheary what to do. It was on display again in the Detroit game.
    Sheary has speed but he is not top 6 nhl player . He can stand on his own and Sid made him better.
    He is not a winger that can be Sid’level every game.He can’t contru enough. To much slumps And He is offensively / defensively liability.
    Everytime they play together Sid is having hard time to play his game and Jake complements him very well.
    You don’t have to tell Jake much . He everywhere in right place . He understands Sid and it have been spurts of them together that is long term chemistry where should be together.
    They needs to be together permanently.They just needs to cut down on passing sometimes and get consistency together. Stability as well. Jake is an great player who is great finishnee with playmaking abilities. He has speed. He do well of winning puck battles and work well in unison with Sid. Only thing he needs to do is become stronger with muscle on his like Sid and build more confidence to shoot the puck sometimes instead of going to net when opportunities present itself. Sullivan need to let him play with Sid. No more Sheary.

  3. Ricardo58

    January 2, 2018 at 11:22 am

    From my perspective, the only untouchable is 87 with 71 a close second. I know it is an apple and orange comparison between teams, but 68 was traded.
    Hunwick has proven so far to be a poor evaluation and signing. If 58 salary was 3 to 3.5 per year, I think myself and other fans would appreciate his game. 58’s performance doesn’t equal 7.25 per year.
    I am a fan of 30’s play, but his very slight frame and especially his lack of a football type neck are concerning with how often goalies take hits to the side of the head from attacking skaters.
    The team’s GM misplayed his hand and certainly the lack of a quality 3rd line center has hurt the team. 15 is ideal for a 4th one role. Good luck boys in 2018!

Leave a Reply

Get PHN Extra

PHN Extra

Never Miss a Post!

Enter your email to get all of our articles sent straight to your inbox.

Moon Golf Club

@pghhockeynow

%d bloggers like this:

Join PHN Extra!

Join PHN Extra today for exclusive content from Dan, Matt and Shelly plus a completely Google ad-free experience.

PHN Extra

Or enter your email below to sign-up for our mailing list.

Thank you!

Something went wrong.

No thanks. I don't want.

Send this to a friend