Archive for January, 2013

Any fan who watched the game Tuesday night could tell the Penguins needed work. The poor puck management, lack of powerplay production and seemingly heartless play screamed for changes.

Todd_Reirden_bench1_2011-11-12In his column Wednesday, Joe Starky asked three questions:

Do they look hungry to you?
Does it look like anybody’s having fun?
What, exactly, is this team’s personality?

My answer to those questions: No, No and No Idea.

Starky asks if it’s too early to shake up the team. Maybe. But something needs to be done.

Read his full column here.

When the Penguins finally managed to get the puck into the Islanders net, the cheers were hardly to be found. The 4-1 loss Tuesday night did more than make fans get up from their expensive seats and climb into their cars before the game was over. It landed the team tied for eighth in the conference. Not a bad place to be early in a regular season, but there are only a few months left of the season, and with teams like Boston and Tampa Bay leading the conference with strong performances, every loss counts.

consolThe look the Penguins gave last night was eerily reminiscent of their playoff performances of one year ago. A coach who struggles to motivate his team, goal scorers who can’t find the back of the net, a powerplay that is only recognizable because the other team only has four players to their five.

The Penguins have numerous issues needing to be addressed, and every member of the team needs to do some soul-searching, from the general manager all the way down to the newly called up player.

Marc Andre Fleury MUST be better in net. There are no excuses for letting in bad goals, or ducking when a shot comes toward you. You’re a goalie; goalies don’t duck.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have to get on the scoreboard. They both need to lead their lines into the offensive zone and create opportunities. These guys are supposed to be the best in the league, aren’t they?

Dan Bylsma has to find a way to motivate the guys on the bench. The flat play and lack of emotion cannot continue. There’s a reason for the phrase “in it to win it.”

General Manager Ray Shero has to sit down and look at the roster and decide what will happen next. It’s all too clear that a winger for Malkin’s line is badly needed. Bylsma Evgeni_Malkin-2008has tried every combination and nothing has solidified. Except for last year when Chris Kunitz played alongside The Real Deal James Neal and MVP Malkin. But now he plays on the top line, with Sidney Crosby. With all the line changes going on during games, that line remained untouched for the most part. Questionable?

When a team doesn’t have time to gel and linemates can’t get used to each other, the product is a disorganized mess, much like the Penguins of recent games. Puck management and timing have been huge problems for Pittsburgh, which could both be helped by some good line chemistry.

If the Penguins are to rebound at all in the next two games, each and every player has to make himself accountable on the ice and make the best of whoever their linemates happen to be for that shift. If they don’t, the Penguins will surely fail.

After a booming start to the season against the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins looked to have returned to their old form of the Stanley Cup years of recent times. But a few days later it became apparent that the team still had a long way to go.Consol_Energy_Center--indoors

The Toronto game, Jan. 23, left fans stunned as the Maple Leafs crushed the team and the fan’s enthusiasm about the 2-0 start. Thinking the team would rebound two days later in Winnipeg seemed silly as the team’s defense, goaltending and scoring failed to make an appearance.

Everyone has placed such a high importance in starting the short season off well, unlike the Capitals, who earned their first win against the Sabres Sunday, or the Flyers, though….I’m sure many a fan were happy about their start to the season. So when the Penguins dropped to 2-2 on the season, the scrambling began. Talks of trades and sending down players to the minors became prevalent on social media.

But when Sunday’s game against Ottawa came around the fans were treated to exciting, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat hockey. Different from the past two games, the defense showed up. Fleury played better against Ottawa than he had in the past, including some remarkable saves in the shootout.

Matt_Niskanen_2_2012-03-11Even though he seemed to be a little off during the game, Evgeni Malkin took it to Craig Anderson and scored the game-winning goal. The question remains, what will happen when the Penguins take the ice against the Isles? Will the Penguins of a week ago with a lacking defense show up? Or will the goaltending and defense stand strong as they did against Ottawa?

The Penguins have to keep their defensive efforts at a maximum, especially if their scoring continues to struggle. The team needs to gel and get back to the well-oiled machine seen last year.

One issue that might affect the Penguins immensely is the loss of Matt Niskanen. Though the organization said the lower-body injury isn’t serious and he’ll only be out two-four weeks, Nisky’s presence on the ice is important. The Penguins went through defensive roulette last season when injuries plagued the blue line. Only five games in, the team already finds itself with one sidelined. It’s imperative the defense stay healthy during this short season.

The Penguins performance against the Islanders will be the first indicator if the loss of the first Penguins player to injury will have an impact on the team.