MORNING PENS BUZZ
The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to coast through the final stretch of the regular season, losing to the Minnesota Wild 4-0 Saturday night. Minnesota scored three goals on their first six shots and the Penguins struggled to generate much offense as Ilya Bryzgalov posted a 20 save shutout.
The Penguins were a team that looked like their “care” level for the game was about as low as it gets. Even players like Sidney Crosby who rarely take nights off from an effort level, didn’t seem to have much interest in playing a 200 ft game. All you have to do is go back and watch Crosby back checking on Minnesota’s 4th goal of the game
The Penguins have been playing some mediocre hockey for a long stretch, losing 12 of their last 21 games. That’s a quarter of the season. There’s no question that you don’t want to be playing like the Penguins are right now but will it really matter at the end of the day?
I think most people in the organization and those who follow the team have pretty much reached the point where let’s just bring on the post-season and see where things go.
It’s very difficult to evaluate this team on a daily basis. They’re missing Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and were also without Jussi Jokinen and Olli Maatta last night. However, there are some issues with this club that getting those key players back aren’t going to fix like the Penguins commitment to defense from their forwards, 3rd/4th scoring depth, among others.
Two dynamics in fact seem to have evolved with this fan base. You have the one side of the fan base who blame everything on injuries and are ready to plan a Cup parade when the Penguins beat a bad Winnipeg Jets team.
Then there seems to be the other side of the fan base where there’s a huge over-exaggeration of every loss and are ready to give this team no chance in the playoffs. This group seems to be preparing for another playoff let down and they’ll probably get it.
In reality most people should be in between. The Penguins are not an elite team but are a good team who have the top tier talent to go on a long playoff run if everyone is clicking at the same time, which hasn’t happened since 2009. You can never rule that out but I’d bet on another playoff disappointment as in not reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.
The million dollar question is will the Penguins be able to just turn it up another level in the post-season? That’s the unknown with this hockey club that we’re going to find out very soon. If they don’t, they’d be lucky to get out of the first round. The Penguins passion and effort level has been very poor for weeks now and that’s playing a dangerous game.
Former NHL player Aaron Ward, now an analyst with TSN had some interesting comments on Friday when appearing on the morning show at 937 The Fan. He expressed doubts that even with the Penguins expected to get some key players back in Evgeni Malkin and possibly Kris Letang, that the Penguins will all of sudden just be able to start clicking on all cylinders.
Just one former players opinion but I found it to be an interesting one.