Molinari: Are Enough Penguins Players Invested in Winning? (+)
The outcome of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season won’t be settled at PPG Paints Arena tonight.
Beating the New York Islanders, against whom they are 0-2 in 2022-23, won’t guarantee them a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs, just as losing to New York won’t eliminate them from contention.
A defeat wouldn’t even drop them out of the second wild-card spot, unless it happens in regulation and is paired with a Florida victory at home against Anaheim.
But make no mistake: After disheartening losses to the Islanders and New Jersey over the weekend, the Penguins have a lot more than just two points at stake this evening.
They are looking very much like a team whose confidence has been strip-mined by adversity, that seems to realize it is not good enough to routinely get by without its No. 1 goaltender and with offensive output that comes almost exclusively from its top two lines.
Torrents of criticism have been directed at their No. 3 line, and understandably so. If not for the defensive lapses by members of that unit, it would be fair to wonder if they had swapped their game sweaters for invisibility cloaks, because they so rarely do anything good that can be detected by the naked eye.
But the Penguins’ issues go far beyond the struggles of a single line, or the absence of their best goalie.