Signs were there last season of heading in wrong direction
The Penguins last 75 games (Regular Season/Playoffs) they have a .427 win percentage. Hot goaltenders, injuries, no matter what way you want to spin it or excuses to make, that’s a lot of losing.
The Penguins in last night’s 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens played a horrid first period as the ice was strongly titled in the Canadiens advantage, then Pittsburgh played a strong second period, only to come out with a sluggish start to the third and out-chanced 8-1 in the first nine minutes of the period.
Despite significant changes the last two seasons, it continues to be the same story, the group is plagued by stretches of being listless on the ice. It happened again last night as it did Saturday night vs Arizona.
Playing listless starts at the top and all the way down.
Sidney Crosby through the first three games of the season has never looked this stagnant as a player. His greatness of backing up the D and attacking down the middle of the ice is no longer there. Last night again Crosby gains the offensive zone down the middle of the ice and his first instinct is to move the puck over to Chris Kunitz or Phil Kessel down the wing, instead of attacking.
Evgeni Malkin who some for whatever reason continue to call the second best center in hockey, has no goals in his last 18 games and picked up his first point in 12 games last night with a secondary assist.
Once those at the top in the organization start accepting Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are no longer the players they were in their early 20’s, it will be a step in the right direction. Doesn’t mean they’re no longer great players but both are not the players they used to be. Let’s be honest here.
Teammates don’t feed off Crosby, Malkin like they they did four, five years ago.
What we’ve seen from this group through three games is what should be expected for a mishmash group.
The primary mistake the Penguins made this off-season was talking themselves into believing that the low scoring playoff games with the New York Rangers could make them get away with a poor blueline this season.
They’ve tried to throw crap together on the blueline and cross their fingers that the skill at forward will outweigh the liabilities on the backend.
It doesn’t work out that way.
The goals against are not the numbers to look at. This defense group is not built to play the way the Penguins are built to play offensively. That’s problem No. 1.
The horrific puck management skills from the backend this group possesses, the Penguins would be better off with a bunch of Max LaPierre’s, Daniel Winnik’s on the third and fourth lines.
Not embracing those type of players by any means but that’s how bad the defense is at getting the puck up to the forwards in the right spots through the neutral zone.
This mix is not going to work and we’re going to find out quickly here that it wasn’t an “A+” off-season for Jim Rutherford after all that so many pegged it as being.
Rutherford’s butchering of the roster last season is still haunting the Penguins and it isn’t just the debacle of acquiring Ben Lovejoy for Simon Despres, where the Penguins traded a young top-4 defenseman basically for nothing.
The David Perron trade continues to sting for the present and the future. For an organization dying for young impact forwards, a stud forward in Mathew Barzal went at No. 16 where the Penguins would have selected and for the present, Perron a pending free agent, is a drag on the roster.
In a league where more and more teams are getting faster, Perron’s east-west game makes him a non-factor more nights than not.
A cap hit just north of $3.8 million, that money would surely look good to go towards a quality two-way defenseman right now.
Mike Johnston was not the right guy for the job, that much has been clear for a while now and it isn’t worth rehashing on a daily basis, but he has also been dealt a tough hand with management influencing who should play and where.
After a solid preseason and fitting a need the Penguins desperately lack, someone with solid puck management skills from the backend, Adam Clendening has been stuck on the bench because upper management wants B Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"