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.
The 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 has 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.