The National media is sounding off on the Penguins struggles.
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal writes,
‚ÄúThe Pittsburgh Penguins are reeling after losing 10 of their last 14 games. When you get blown out 6-1 by the Florida Panthers for a fifth straight loss at home, there are serious problems. Sidney Crosby is obviously starting to feel the heat of being captain of a ship taking on water. He blew his stack and jumped Brett McLean, of all people, as he bent over in the faceoff circle for his second NHL fight (Andrew Ference was the first). Sources say Crosby misses Ryan Malone and Jarkko Ruuttu to look after the talking in the Pittsburgh room while he leads on the ice, and he’s more upset about the Penguins not signing Marian Hossa than he’s letting on. While it’s obvious they miss defenceman Sergei Gonchar (shoulder surgery, but skating now), they need some sort of a shakeup. This is a team that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup last June, don’t forget. Neither off-season pickup, Miroslav Satan nor Ruslan Fedotenko, is anywhere near as good as Hossa.‚Äù
Kevin Dupont of the Boston Globe writes,
‚ÄúWay too much talent in that Penguins lineup for them to struggle so mightily on the power play, in part why they called a players-only meeting after the Bruins rubbed them out at the Igloo Dec. 30. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are among the two best young forwards in the game, and they can’t get the job done on the power play? Clearly, they miss Sergei Gonchar (shoulder), who has been out all year. But some of it is coaching, and Michel Therrien has always been a bit of a strange fit there, even when they made their run to the Cup finals last spring.‚Äù
Sid the slugger
E.J. Hradek of ESPN sounds off on the Penguins.
Hradek writes ‚ÄúHey, did you catch Sidney Crosby’s slugging it out with Panthers veteran Brett McLean in the second period of the Pens’ 6-1 home ice loss on Saturday afternoon? It was Crosby’s second NHL fight. He threw down with Boston’s Andrew Ference last season.
Against McLean, Crosby did well for himself. He definitely got the jump on McLean, who likely was surprised by Crosby’s willingness to go. For his efforts, he received 19 penalty minutes (two minutes for instigating, two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, five minutes for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct). The Penguins were down 4-1 when Crosby decided to drop the gloves.
Clearly, the Pens’ captain and his mates are growing more and more frustrated by their recent struggles. The defending Eastern Conference champs have dropped four in a row and five of their past six games. They’re 6-11-1 in their past 18 games and have lost five straight at home. Believe it or not, Saturday’s loss combined with Buffalo’s win at Boston push Pittsburgh into ninth place in the East. As you know, only the top eight teams will advance to the playoffs.
The Pens have a busy week in front of them. They play four games in six nights, starting with a trip to Madison Square Garden to play the Rangers on Monday night. If things don’t get turned around soon, we can expect to hear a call for a coaching change. It’s no secret around the league that the Penguins’ players aren’t in love with coach Michel Therrien. When things are going well, the coach-player relationship usually is manageable. When things aren’t going so well, those problems can lead to a change.
The Pens’ coach does have one thing going for him. Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero worked under patient Nashville manager David Poile and isn’t one to overreact. Still, I would think it’s something worth keeping an eye on.‚Äù
The struggling Penguins
Some are questioning the chemistry in that room right now. After a loss last Tuesday night against Boston, the Penguins had a players-only meeting and coach Michel Therrien raised eyebrows when he questioned the team’s leadership, which some perceived as a shot against Crosby.
A few days later, Therrien said it wasn’t directed at Crosby; but still, something doesn’t seem right. Therrien is in the first season of a new three-year deal, so it seems hard to believe the organization would want to eat that. The pressure, therefore, is on GM Ray Shero to make some kind of trade. Easier said than done.
More to come