The Penguins begin a crucial 5 game stretch beginning Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens. So much for the Penguins turning the corner after beating the Rangers 6-2 Wednesday night. Losing to a rebuilding team like the Leafs shouldn’t happen. The biggest disappointment with this team is their inability to clear the front of the net in the defensive zone. Head coach Michel Therrien and associate coach Andre Savard are defensive minded coaches and just as Mike Yeo takes the heat for the power play struggles, Savard and Therrien deserve some criticism for the Penguins defensive struggles.
The Penguins have mishandled Ryan Whitney since he came back from off-season foot surgery. Whitney is clearly struggling and since his first game back he has been among the Penguins leaders in ice time. He should have been gradually brought back not playing 25+ minutes off the bat.
Bill Thomas was a -2 against the Leafs but was 10-4 on face-offs.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports, There’s talk Panthers GM Jacques Martin has had talks with Penguins GM (and old friend from their Senators days) Ray Shero about a Jay Bouwmeester for Ryan Whitney and draft picks deal.
The Penguins are looking at interest in Whitney but not for another defenseman.
The Penguins are very interested in

Senators forward Chris Neil. Bryan Murray and Shero have had discussions. Murray is believed to be seeking a 2nd/3rd round pick & prospect.
The Ducks, Sharks, Bruins, Coyotes, Canucks, Flames are also believed to be interested in Neil.
Colorado, Florida, Nashville, LA, Dallas, Tampa Bay looking at Pens offensive defensemen.
I’m hearing it is 30/70 that Marty St. Louis will be dealt. Listening to offers but the asking price is a bit high for teams. Two top tier prospects/ 1st round pick/ roster player is the Lightning’s asking price. The price Will have to come down for the Penguins to get seriously involved in the St.Louis sweepstakes.
Teams officials claim there is minimal interest in forward Keith Tkachuk. Don’t know if the locker room issues are playing a factor in that.
3rd round pick – Mark Eaton for Bill Guerin? It’s been discussed but Pittsburgh has to find a way to get the salaries to match.

The way the trade deadline works for a team like Pittsburgh who is buying is you explore all of your options.
Pittsburgh two biggest assets being shopped right now are Ryan Whitney and Alex Goligoski.
Colorado is the team to watch right now. Pittsburgh looking hard at Milan Hedjuk and Wojtek Wolski.
Penguins will not be moving Jordan Staal at the deadline.
Ruslan Fedotenko is a at least a week away from returning. February 14th against Toronto is a target date.
Fedotenko could be moved according to sources as part of a package if Whitney was dealt for a top 6 forward. Columbus, Phoenix Colorado were showing some interest prior to his injury.
My early Gonchar prediction on returning: February 19th against the Canadiens. Gonchar is three weeks ahead of schedule and the way he is progressing it actually wouldn’t surprise if he came back before then. Gonchar will see his doctor on February 4th, and is expected to be cleared to begin hitting this week.
Everyone enjoy the Super Bowl