Due to games in hand, FOR NOW the math is still good regarding the Penguins prospects for a wild card spot but what a crushing loss to the New York Islanders Friday night.

In a 5-4 loss where the Penguins held leads of 3-1, 4-2, and 4-3, everything keeps coming back to this team taking shortcut after shortcut with their play away from the puck.

You’re not the Boston Bruins with 80+ points where you can coast the rest of the way and take some nights off. This team keeps talking that a Stanley Cup is the goal, blah, blah. Yet, there continues to be too many moments where members of this team, especially core players are just going for a skate.

And the No. 1 player in this category is Evgeni Malkin. Somebody has to say it…….

Malkin is not a good enough offensive force 5 VS 5 at this stage of his career, to off-set the liability and really lack of care mindset he plays with on a nightly basis. It’s killing the Penguins in critical situations like it did last night. Malkin’s lets go for a ‘public skate’ play on the Parise goal is happening every game.

If the Penguins words are true that the goal is to compete for a Stanley Cup, somebody in the organization needs to be having some tough discussions with the fact that you can’t be playing winning hockey when you’re No. 2 center doesn’t give a damn about playing in his own end. Casey DeSmith is of course getting crushed for the loss……

The loss to me is on Evgeni Malkin in why the Penguins didn’t at least get a point. Play basic center support defense and Brock Nelson has no shot to make the cross-ice feed to Parise.

On the Parise Goal, Pittsburgh of course loses a puck-battle when they had a 2-to-1 advantage. Jason Zucker is guilty of over-pursuing and not giving adequate space for puck support as the puck becomes loose……

Then the next line of defense being the CENTER on the line, Evgeni Malkin just decides to take a twirl, turning his back to the play while heading up ice. Just awful awareness in that moment of the game …

Not that anyone in the organization will do this, but what the message to Malkin should be, ‘if this is how you want to play for the rest of your career which appears to be case’, you’re now a full-time right winger.

There’s no bigger need for the Penguins between now and the summer in finding a 200 ft 2nd line center for next summer.


For Anyone wondering — The Penguins were not in the mix for Ryan O’Reilly who was traded Friday night to the Toronto Maple Leafs. O’Reilly’s taken a step back from a pace standpoint, but it’s a big move for the Maple Leafs who had no choice but to go-all in at the deadline. Speaking of O’Reilly, he came awfully close to becoming a Penguin just prior to the 2015 draft. He was Jim Rutherford’s No. 1 target that summer, even over Phil Kessel and at one point Pittsburgh thought they had a deal for O’Reilly that would have taken Pittsburgh out of the mix for Kessel.

Seattle continues to be linked to Blueger? Teddy Blueger’s name continues to surface in trade talks with Pittsburgh said to be exploring 1-for-1 type deals surrounding Blueger if they were to move him while still holding a wildcard spot between now and the deadline. One trade scenario that’s been discussed is Blueger for To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

Count on 3-4 moves? As the heat continues to turn up on GM Ron Hextall locally and while don’t expect anything big, one high ranking source says don’t be surprised to see a 3-4 player turnover To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!