Talent Not Enough for Penguins
January 5, 2009 by Big Tony
The Pittsburgh Penguins will have two starters at the NHL All-Star game later this month but that’s about all the team has going for itself at the moment. Pittsburgh has lost four in-a-row and only won 5 games in December of the 14 played and thus far January does not look good either. Malkin and Crosby are both in the top three in scoring in the league but winning is so much more than simply putting up good numbers; there are, after all, OTHER parts of the game that equate to winning. Much like in the playoffs it is important to have strong role players and more importantly big bruisers to: A. keep the other team from beating up on your team’s stars without being punished for their actions and B. to wear down the other team much like an run-game does in football so that by the end of the game your team has stronger legs than the other as well as stronger legs as the season progresses. Goaltending has not been strong for the Penguins either but the biggest problem is not getting enough from big, tough guys. Eric Goddard and Matt Cooke do a bit of that but it’s not deterring other teams from inflicting punishment on the likes of Crosby and Malkin.
Also, the Penguins can no longer slow the game down with big guys who can protect the puck and burn time the way Georges Laraque could for them last year. Pittsburgh’s power play lacks a guy who can stand in front of the net and take punishment while giving the opposing goaltending grief while getting a stick on pucks to get a tip goal or clean up the garbage on a rebound (Ryan Malone anyone?). These are all things Pittsburgh had last year and to some degree early on but now they are trying to use their skill and talent to push forward and get them out of the slump but it is not and will not work. If Pittsburgh happens to make the playoffs without correcting these problems then they will be the very reason the East winners of a year ago will win NOTHING this year.