The Penguins whole off-season was about creating enough depth offensively where everything wouldn’t have to fall on the shoulders of the stars. It hasn’t panned out that way and no evidence it’s going to change.
The depth scoring has been as bad as it can get 5 v 5.
Even Strength Goals: David Perron (3), Chris Kunitz (3), Matt Cullen (3), Eric Fehr (2), Nick Bonino (2), Sergei Plotnikov (0).
This is a team again where it all comes down to the stars dominating or not. We’re seen a small sample size of that again over the last couple games.
When the Penguins get the goaltending they are getting and the stars dominate, notably two of Crosby/Malkin/Letang at the same time, the Penguins are an intriguing and dangerous team regardless of whether the spare parts are adequate enough.
Sidney Crosby is back to being Sidney Crosby right now. Is it sustainable? Who knows but I’d wager he’ll be the Penguins leading scorer at seasons end.
Crosby has scored in four straight games for the first time since December 2010 and has five multi-point games over his last eight, after having five multi-point games in his first 28 games under Mike Johnston.
But it’s not just the stats with Crosby.
He’s back to attacking through the middle of the ice and striking a fear in the opposition by pushing defenders back with his speed through the neutral zone. When shooting the puck, he’s back to raising the puck again with authority on his shots.
Those were two primary elements missing from his play the first two months of the season.
The Penguins only chance to make some serious noise this season is going to be Crosby or Malkin playing lights out for long stretches. How it’s often been with this club since 2010, and it remains the same now. Despite an attempt to produce four scoring lines by Jim Rutherford and his management group, the surrounding parts are just not good enough and adding a couple Daniel Winnik types at the deadline isn’t going to change that.
Without mortgaging the future, the focus needs to be on getting someone who can finish some passes from Crosby. There is just too much of a sample now where that guy is not going to be David Perron.
Getting Sidney Crosby help is the Penguins better chance of getting back into the discussion as a team to take serious in the Eastern Conference then trying to get a depth winger for Nick Bonino to play with and believe they have the makings of a four line scoring team and be the Tampa Bay Lightning from the 2015 playoffs.
In trying to walk that fine line of the present and future, they need to find a deal that see’s them get lucky in a sense.
Coming into this season the Penguins really needed to hit on a prospect in their system providing a jolt in the top-9, Daniel Sprong showed small glimpses before fading out, or acquiring a winger who comes in at a reasonable cost and significantly exceeds expectations.
The Penguins haven’t had one acquisition from the summer or prospect come in and exceed expectations. You can argue none of the Penguins’ off-season acquisitions have even matched expectations as the Penguins near the half-way mark.
New Jersey’s acquisition of Kyle Palmieri is the perfect type of example as is Chicago’s signing of Artemi Panarin, type of acquisitions the Penguins needed to happen for them and still do.
This past spring the Penguins had significant interest in Panarin but despite the presence of fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin, the agent didn’t like the fit in Pittsburgh for his client as a spot that would maximize Panarin’s potential earnings on a second contract.
The Penguins were still pleased to end up with Sergei Plotnikov who former assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald recruited very hard after the World Championships to sign with the Penguins.
The Penguins knew they weren’t getting a high-end talent like Panarin but Penguin officials still felt Plotnikov was a top-9 player who was going to come in and add the type of depth scoring the Penguins have lacked in the past. Team officials would love to send Plotnikov to Wilkes Barre to help his confidence offensively but the Russian winger has an out-clause in his contract were he to be sent down to the minors.
Plotnikov may still evolve into a solid 4th liner but the Blackhawks landed a bonifide top-6 winger on an entry level deal and signings like these are what helps the Blackhawks stay ahead of many others when they have to re-tool their complementary players on a yearly basis.
— Jarome Iginla hit the 600 career goal mark the other night. Since the 2013-2014 season, he has scored 70 goals in 200 games. Sidney Crosby has 76 goals in 195 games during that span. Iginla had a lot of hockey left in him following the Penguins Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"