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.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
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