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Monday, January 12, 2009

The Pittsburgh Penguins Defensive Situation

The current situation with the Pittsburgh Penguins' defensive squad is a strange one. On one hand, the Penguins have a definite glut of capable, NHL-level defensemen. Currently, with the injury to Sergei Gonchar, the Penguins could dress any of the following defensemen: Ryan Whitney, Hal Gill, Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Philippe Boucher, Alex Goligoski, Mark Eaton and Rob Scuderi. That's eight NHL defensemen to fill six positions. At first glance you would assume the Penguins' problem was too many options on defense.

You would be wrong.

Unfortunately, over the recent slump, the Penguins have turned from a tough defensive squad with an arsenal of offensive defensemen to a club that is very easy to play against. They are, as Michel Therrien once said, "soff."

The Penguins defense is split rather well. The team currently has four offensive defensemen (Whitney, Goligoski, Letang and Boucher) and four defensive defensemen (Orpik, Gill, Eaton and Scuderi.) The problem is, their offensive defensemen are not scoring and their defensive defensemen are not defending. The current slump has spread into the Penguins defense. Or has it spread from it?

There was a time, earlier in the season, when the concern was what the Penguins would do with so many capable defensemen. Trade rumours swirled and we all wondered which defensemen would stay and which would go. Now that question has become "What six defensemen can form a capable defensive squad?"

It's just one of the many things that has gone wrong with the Pittsburgh Penguins since December.

The Pens made it to the Stanley Cup Finals last year because of their strong defense. This year they cannot manage to perform their roles properly at all.

That's a problem that plagues the entire team. It seems like no one has a role. They're all just passing the puck around until Crosby or Malkin get into a scoring position. I truly think their performance lately is a sign of bad coaching.

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