The Penguins are 6-5-1 through their first twelve games. They have been short of a completely healthy lineup by at least two players and as many as four players throughout the entire beginning stretch. It appeared that Staal was going to play Wednesday in Dallas. Word is now that he suffered an upper body injury at practice today. Neither Letang nor Malkin practiced and Goligoski left the ice early. The experiment of Malkin playing left wing on Staal’s line may be pushed back even further. Even though this might work, I don’t like it. The strength of this team has always been at center. Malkin IS a center. He is a very creative force on the ice. His playmaking abilities are somewhat stifled at wing. The sooner that the management team realizes this, and the sooner we have all bodies on board, the sooner the team will reach it’s full potential. Even without a full lineup, the Penguins could have had more success through the first twelve games with better play at home, a more productive powerplay, and the real Marc Andre Fleury. I know the Penguins want to entertain at the CEC. That is a good plan. I don’t know about all of the fans, but my enjoyment from attending a game comes from seeing a victory. If a more simplistic road approach to games at home results in a better home record, I am all for it.
The powerplay somehow remains an issue. Losing all of these one goal games when the powerplay goes empty is very disheartening — even moreso when they give up so many shorthanded chances. We can’t even blame Yeo any more. One immediate cure for the powerplay is simple — get Malkin the hell off of the point. He doesn’t want to be there, he doesn’t belong there. He belongs on the right wing boards. The Penguins have three defensemen who are very capable pointmen — Letang, Goligoski, and Martin. The more that those three play there, the better they will be. Of course the powerplay needs a net-front presence. For now it can still be Kunitz. Eventually this is the job for Staal. This leaves Crosby with the freedom to go to the left wing boards, behind the goal, or in the slot. Who would know better how to utilize these options than Sid?
Everyone is on the Brent Johnson bandwagon. You have to be happy with the way that he has played to date. So if he plays a little more this season than originally anticipated, and continues to be as sharp as he is right now, that is a good thing. I don’t think it’s time to throw Fleury to the wolves just yet. He is a 25-yr. old with a Stanley Cup ring who has won eight of his last ten playoff series. He will work through this — he has too much talent not to. I still feel confident that he will be a big part of the Penguins’ success this year. That’s the view from 207.
Note — Engelland has proved his value — not just as a fighter. He has been very solid and when everyone is healthy, he should be the sixth defenseman. Goddard now has zero value.
Note — I hope Letestu’s start wasn’t all adrenaline. He has done nothing the last several games.
Note — Until everyone is healthy, it is hard to decide what the final lines will look like. Comrie should eventually end up with Malkin. If he can’t produce there, he should be released. Tangradi is not far away.