Any Change in Penguins long-term outlook for 2021 Season?

Pittsburgh has rattled off four straight wins, all come from behind wins and on Sunday secured their first regulation win of the season.

Pittsburgh on Sunday was improved in cutting down the grade-A chances, we’ll see if that can continue tonight vs the Bruins.

Getting off to the 4-2-0 start compared with the eye test has showed is something else. The record could easily be flipped to 2-4-0 and six games in, I still feel the same way I did before the season started.

A likely playoff team but nothing more than a middle of the road team.

Top to bottom this is just an uninspiring group 5-on-5 that isn’t built for today’s NHL’s when you try to compare them with some of the NHL’s top tier teams. Penguin management has had this obsession that the roster they’ve put in place can replicate the 2016 team they built.

It’s nowhere close. The league has gone heavier in recent years, something the Penguins haven’t adapted too, but there was always too much talk and belief in the organization that the 2016 team was speed, speed, speed. It wasn’t. It just had the perfect mix of speed/physicality/skill. And that is still the blueprint in today’s NHL. Dominating below the dots. The personnel right now does not fit that bill by any means. If the Penguins go out and add another Bryan Rust type, along with a Chris Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist type, then it would be a different story.

— It’s early but let’s not sugar coat it, the organization had serious concerns dating back to the summer of 2019 about how Evgeni Malkin’s game would age as he hit his mid-30’s.

Have the physical skills, though, actually diminished?

I’ve been critical of Malkin in the past and still feel the Penguins missed their best chance to reboot this roster and maximize the window they could still have as Sidney Crosby ages in that they should have moved Malkin to Florida in summer of 2019, a scenario that was a lot closer to happening than many want to believe.

As many are trashing Malkin’s effort level and engagement, and he’s been really bad in all phases thus far, I’ve had a couple former players who know Malkin well and have echoed the same sentiment dating back to the Penguins exit in the bubble where they claim Malkin just loves being a father and feel he struggles mentally in being away from his family on a day-to-day basis, something the organization has also felt is a real thing that needs to be addressed. I’ve been told Malkin had a tough time last summer celebrating To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

— Mike Sullivan is honest and blunt with players behind the scenes. He’ll tell it like he see’s it. In public, though, he has always stayed away from being critical of players. There’s a faction in the organization that wouldn’t mind seeing that change.

— Whispers are the Penguins coaching staff has soured on Sam Lafferty who will dominate some practices, but struggles in translating it to games as coaches feel he gets pushed around for a player his size. Drew O’Connor is expected to debut for the Penguins tonight.

There’s a little bit of intrigue about O’Connor in the organization where the skillset could translate to a two-way bottom-6 player at some point. Has a good frame at 6-3, good hands with the puck, and has flashed some ability in practice to create some nifty To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!