It’s a shame the Penguins can’t bring back Michel Therrien for a couple weeks. Most of the dressing room wouldn’t be overjoyed by the prospect. Brooks Orpik might be downright suicidal.
But this team needs a bad cop. A short, sharp dose of Therrien might be the only thing that can reel in the subpar flying circus the Pens have become, let alone imbue them with the solid two-way fundamentals that won the Stanley Cup last season and have all but disappeared now.
Want proof? Look at last night’s 7-4 loss to Philadelphia.
Mike Rupp gifted the Flyers a goal with an ill-advised lateral pass at the Flyers blue line. The last man is supposed to NEVER stickhandle, but Martin Skoula did; only a big effort by Marc-Andre Fleury bailed him out.
This isn’t Sid or Geno trying to make something happen. This is a fourth-line forward and seventh defenseman attempting things out of their realm.
The Penguins are soft in front of their net. They’re not drawing penalties because they’re not skating all-out often enough. Spectacular goals outnumber greasy goals; that usually means not enough goals. The opposition scores first way too often.
Fundamentals, fundamentals. That was Badger Bob Johnson’s mantra. Where are they?
I’m not mooting a coaching change. But if Dan Bylsma’s honeymoon isn’t over, it should be. Stir in the NHL’s worst power play despite all that offensive talent, and Coach Disco has some ‘splainin’ to do.
Inevitably, it’s up to the players. Malkin is mostly invisible, 22nd in the NHL scoring race and with zero goals in his last seven games. Fleury was rotten against Philadelphia and has dropped to 34th in the league in save percentage. Crosby is producing, but could do more. (With those wings, though, sometimes no pass is good enough.)
But coaching provides the foundation, and the fundamentals. One Cup does not a coaching career make. If the Penguins are resting on their laurels, it means the coaches are, too. Fix the problem.
Michel Therrien would. And did.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).