The Penguins head into the All-Star break looking for answers as they sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference Standings. Tuesday night the Penguins had the opportunity to go into the break winning four of five when they faced off against the Carolina Hurricanes but the Penguins were not able to take advantage of playing at home and the Hurricanes playing the night before.
The Penguins jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period with Evgeni Malkin scoring his 19th goal of the season but the Penguins couldn‚Äôt solve Cam Ward after that. Ward made 32 saves and the Penguins were outshot 40-33 as they lost to the Hurricanes 2-1 Tuesday night at Mellon Arena.
The Hurricanes (23-20-5) jumped ahead of the Penguins by one point in the standings and Tuesday‚Äôs loss was a tough loss to take for a team who thought they were about to turn the corner.
Michel Therrien‚Äôs Post-Game Comments: “That’s a game that I thought we were going to win,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “I thought we were prepared, I thought we played well in the first period, we had chances.”Cam Ward was outstanding and he kept their team in the game.”
Power Play Comes up short: Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason was assessed a double-minor at 15:45 of the third period, and the Penguins had a prime opportunity to send the game to overtime. The Penguins had a slew of scoring chances and Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward shut the door. The Penguins special teams have been an major disappointment this season. Through 48 games the Penguins power play is only connecting at 16.8%. The Penalty kill isn‚Äôt much better at 79.5%.
How do the Penguins fix their struggling power play?
The past couple games the Penguins have altered their set up with Evgeni Malkin playing on the left side and in the middle for the majority of the time. Malkin did score a power play goal against the Hurricanes but Crosby should be working off of the left side with Malkin on the right side. Sergei Gonchar is deeply missed on the power play but the absence of Gonchar is no excuse for the Penguins struggles. A team with Sidney Crosby, Evgnei Malkin, Petr Sykora and Ryan Whitney should not be struggling like the Penguins are.
Major Need: Physical presence in front of the net; Right handed shot down low
Photo courtesy of Dan4th
All-Star Break Report: What to look for via trades, personnel, ect
It is going to be a very interesting weekend. The All-Star break is like the MLB Winter Meetings. The majority of general managers get together and a lot of trade talk begins during the All-Star break. This is where Ray Shero set the stage for acquiring Marian Hossa last year.
Pittsburgh is exploring the market for a top 6 winger and another veteran presence to add to the lineup.
What do the Penguins do with Alex Goligoski?: Alex Goligoski was a healthy scratch against the Hurricanes. Despite some internet speculation, Goligoski was not out with an illness. He practiced on Monday and Tuesday. The Penguins are looking at interest in Goligoski but mixed reviews around the league about what kind of return Goligoski can net the Penguins. Teams value Ryan Whitney and Kris Letang ahead of Goligoski.
The front office is torn about sending Goligoski to WBS. Some think it will hurt his development. The Penguins have to make a decision on what to do with Goligoski. Can‚Äôt let him sit in stands on a consistent basis.
Fleury picking up his game: Marc Andre Fleury has been very inconsistent this season but the past three games he has played how the Penguins will need him to play the rest of the season. If the Penguins are to make the playoffs, Fleury will have to be the difference maker. Fleury made 38 saves against the Hurricanes.
Tough task ahead for the Penguins: The Penguins opened the season 12-4-3, 27 points in 19 games, the second-best start in franchise history but a 9-15-2 stretch following a 6 game winning streak in November has the put the Penguins in territory they didn‚Äôt expect to be in when the season started.
Talbot, Dupuis to return against Rangers: The Penguins do not practice until Monday and will have five days off. That rest will be crucial for Pascal Dupuis and Max Talbot. Both players will return to the lineup when the Penguins faceoff against the Rangers on the 28th.
Brooks Orpik missed his second consecutive game with an upper body injury.
Penguins 1st half M.V.P: Evgeni Malkin (19 goals ‚Äì 51 assists ‚Äì 70 points)