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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Game Recap: Panthers 6 - Penguins 1

This isn't going to be a recap. One isn't deserved.

This was pathetic. This was sad. There are so many problems with this team that I'm not sure where to start.

Yes I am.

The power play.

Any power play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin should be able to score some goals. Then Penguins are something ridiculous like 0-23 with the man advantage. Mike Yeo, who runs the Penguins power play, must be doing something wrong. But this isn't entirely the coaching staff's fault. The Penguins have some very talented players on their roster. And none of them, not even Malkin who still leads the league in scoring, are performing to the peak for their ability.

Malkin hasn't scored in six games. Crosby hasn't had a point in six of the Penguins' last 11 games.

That's the main problem, but not the only one.

Marc-Andre Fleury has struggled. He's always been a goaltender that struggles when his confidence is down, and his confidence is definitely down. But the team is not helping him.

The Penguins haven't played a game where it's looked like they could win in a very long time. In very few occasions have the Penguins put in a 60-minute effort, and they have even lost those games. They aren't shooting. They aren't creating traffic. They aren't winning battles. Every loose puck ends up on the stick of the opposition. Every shot is blocked. Every pass is intercepted. These players are too good to be so throughly dominated every single game. These are indications that this is more than a slump. This is more than a lack of congruity caused by injuries or departed players. The Penguins are being dominated game in and game out. This isn't a case of "It's still early" or "Our record is similar to last year." It's not that the Penguins are losing, but it's how they are losing.

So what do we do?

I still don't believe there are very many trade opportunities for the Penguins. In order to get some impact players the Penguins would have to give up some serious assets and, with the way they have been performing recently, I can't see anyone outside of Crosby or Malkin being especially appealing to another team. Plus, the Penguins do not have any significant cap room available. Also, I don't believe this situation can be fixed by one or two new players.

Should the coaching staff be fired? I have never been a big fan of Michel Therrien. He is good with young players who need motivation, but he has no idea what to do with talented players. He has no system. He has no will or ability to adjust his strategy beyond changing the goaltender or mixing up the line combinations. That doesn't cut it. Mike Yeo is responsible for special teams and the Penguins special team have been terrible. Is this recent pathetic run the coaching staff's fault? Not entirely. Not even mostly. But something needs to happen.

Yes, the Penguins have lost Hossa and Malone. The Penguins have had injury troubles. But if today's game against the Panthers showed anything it's that teams with discipline and confidence and sound coaching strategies can defeat teams who have talent but no direction.

The Penguins have absolutely no direction. And, as of today, they are out of the playoffs. They currently sit in the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference. Something has to change. Sadly, I don't think there is a simple fix possible.


Anonymous said...

That game was bad. I have been most disappointed in Crosby.
he is a great player but his fight was not even a fight... He went after someone that did not seem to know he was coming. He needs to man up. Does he need anger management????

Damian Romano said...

I'm pretty much at a lost for words myself. I'm not quite sure what the Pens can do to turn things around. We're an extremely young club with a Stanley Cup hangover and our emotions are getting the best of us, as displayed by Crosby himself. I think they are dealing with high expectation and much criticisms. Not to mention Therrein's odd decisions (Sabi for MAF, and back again). Hopefully someone can step up and get us back on track.

Lori said...

I'm a fan of getting rid of Yeo. Our special teams are a disaster and they weren't exactly solid last season, either.

Penguins Experience said...

It's pretty pathetic when a team ices a line-up like Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Satan and Whitney on the power play and can't score.

I'm not sure if that's entirely Yeo's doing, but he has to take at least some of the responsibility.

Anonymous said...

In light of MT's preference for shuffling line pairings, why not try Sid and Geno paired together at even strength (not just on PP).

I realize that Geno is a center and has good chemistry with Sykora and Fedotenko, but the team has depth at center. Staal, Talbot, TK and Zigo are all centers.

There is so much talk of getting an elite winger for Sid when we could look to the other superstar we already have.

Maybe the powerplay would be more effective too if Sid and Geno were better able to set each other up.

Penguins Experience said...

Why Malkin continues to play the point on the power play when we have offensive defensemen like Whitney, Goligoski and Letang completely confuses me.

If Malkin and Crosby are going to be on the same line on the power play, they should have Malkin as Sid's winger.

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