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Insider Only Crosby dictates Cup chances but team will remain competitive for top-5 seed in East

Quick Hits
The Penguins can and will remain competitive without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The belief from evaluators I spoke with on Saturday evening is that the Pens’ ability to defend will keep them in the hunt for a top-5 seed and also as long as Marc Andre Fleury remains at his current level he has now sustained for months.
This is going to be a playoff team and when it comes to the Penguins chances of competing for a Stanley Cup, it all depends on whether Crosby returns to the ice and can play at an elite level. That’s a major question mark at this point and a “big if” for this season.
As the Trib’s Rob Rossi mentioned in his Sunday analysis feature, Crosby is expected to be out until “at least March.” The talk right now is he’s at least 4-6 weeks away and his absence could go right up until the final couple weeks of the regular season. This injury is that serious and this could very well end up being a lost second half of the season for Crosby.

However, with the ability to now add, I still see this team being able to potentially win a round in the playoffs, even if the worst case scenario happens and Crosby doesn’t return this season or the Penguins decide to shut him down or he’s ineffective.
They are that good defensively right now.
— We’re going to hear a ton of rumored names over the next couple days but keep in mind that the Penguins won’t have a plan of attack in place until at least mid-week.
The hot name right now is New Jersey’s Jason Arnott. The Pens taking a look at Arnott is just speculation at this point but people around the league have actually sold me on the idea of Pittsburgh making a big play for Arnott.
That’s under the assumption that Crosby is back healthy and being the best player or one of the best in the NHL.
Crosby, Staal, Arnott would give the Penguins a deep group of centerman with Arnott in a perfect spot as the third line center {He’s no longer a true top-6 guy}. Staal and Arnott would be a big strong No. 2 – No. 3 combo.
— I’m sure players are going to breathe a little easier the next couple weeks. There was no overlooking the fact that Pittsburgh was going to have to move a body to add any kind of salary, prior to the Malkin injury.
— What has to be disappointing to management: Jordan Staal, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin only appeared in two games together. In some sense, just two periods as Crosby was not right in the third period of the Winter Classic after the David Steckel hit.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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