The Penguins have played 45 games this season. They have played two with their full lineup. They have still managed to hold a position near the top of the Eastern Conference. Now that the Front Office has decided to keep us in the dark in regards to Crosby’s status, it looks like it might be a while before the Penguins play their third game of the season with everyone healthy. Saturday will be the fifth game that he has missed and as far as we know, he is not close to returning. He is not suffering from a ‘mild’ concussion. If Crosby is going to be sidelined for a while longer, the Pens will have to learn to win without him.
Wednesday night in Montreal was a good way to start. They used a very simple formula — Don’t take penalties and Score on the powerplay. These two things have not happened very often. The Penguins lead the league in minors. When a team is supposedly playing a system that minimizes risk-taking, there should be no need for foolish penalties. As John Madden, I will make this analysis — Being short-handed increases the opponent’s chance of scoring and decreases your own. Here’s to not leading the league in minors in the second half of the season. Scoring on the powerplay is another plus. Many times this season, a powerplay goal at a crucial time in a game could have meant several more points in the standings. The simple approach used in Montreal was awesome — net-front presence and pucks to the net. If the Penguins can draw more penalties than they take, they will be well on their way to a strong finish and remain near the top of the Eastern Conference.
One other thing that would be helpful to the Penguins’ success would be for Malkin to score a goal. He must simplify his game. Go to the net, get open for his slapshot, and stop giving the puck to the opponents. His -4 statistic is the worst on the team among forwards. In fact the only other minus forward on the team is Craig Adams at -3. We know what he brings to the game. Here’s hoping that after Geno reads this, he will go on more than just a mini-spurt like he did the last time. That’s the view from 207.
Note — With Crosby still out, every time I see the hit by Steckel, I get madder. If there was EVER a cheapshot blindside hit to the head that had NO effect on the play, that was it.
Note — The Penguins must play better at home. Only eight teams in the league have more home losses than the nine the Penguins already have. Of those eight teams, only Chicago holds down a playoff spot presently in seventh place in the West.