MORNING PENS BUZZ
— As the mumps epidemic continues with the Penguins, losing Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie the past two nights due to both feeling sick, the bigger issue for the Penguins is a shoulder injury to Olli Maatta that the team is still weighing rest vs potentially season ending surgery, and a severe wrist injury for Blake Comeau that he suffered in Monday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers.
Early diagnosis for Comeau is he will be sidelined for up to six weeks, sources tell Inside Pittsburgh Sports, while further tests are being done to determine if Comeau needs wrist surgery, the Penguins worst fear. Comeau is scheduled to see a specialist this week which will determine whether this ends up being a two month or longer injury.
— Sidney Crosby has just 3 goals since October 29th, a span of 23 games, and Crosby is in the worst slump of his career. Some talk around the league emerging is whether the best is over for Crosby as the No. 1 premier player in hockey. Might sound like crazy talk but it really might not be. Crosby might still be the games best player but if he is, he’s no longer head and shoulders above the rest of the field, others have gained on him or possibly passed him.
Hard work and determination on a nightly basis is what’s truly separated Crosby and Evgeni Malkin over the years but it will be interesting how their careers play out over the next 5-6 years whether Malkin’s talent, size, makes him a more productive player in his early 30’s from a statistical standpoint. Both are going to remain very good players but their prime years are about to end.
Since the concussion issues, Crosby has never regained the scoring prowess he had from 2009-2010 through 2010-2011.
Crosby in 09-10, averaged 0.63 goals per game. In 2010-2011 Crosby averaged 0.78 goals per game and was playing the most dominant hockey of his career with 32 goals in 41 games.
Crosby’s goals per game numbers have not ventured above 0.50 since and he’s never got back to that 2010-2011 level of play.
Crosby’s goals per game since 2010-2011 season: 11-12 (0.36), 12-13 (0.42), 13-14 (0.45), 14-15 (0.32).
The problem for Crosby right now is he’s not getting enough pucks to the net, including chances in around the net. In 13 of his last 15 games Crosby has 4 shots or less and over his last 23 games, Crosby has just 5 shots or more in four games.
— Team officials anticipate a strong push from Mike Johnston to keep Derrick Pouliot in the NHL. Others still feel Pouliot needs more seasoning in the AHL and that will likely play out but Johnston has wanted Pouliot up with the team even earlier than his recall last Saturday
As the trade deadline inches closer, two untouchables in the Penguins system are Kasperi Kapanen and Pouliot. As one source put it, Kapanen is Rutherford’s baby, Pouliot’s is Johnston’s baby.