Here at PenguinPoop we are taking a hard look at whether or not the Pittsburgh Penguins organization needs to make any changes. Sixth up is Phil Krundle.
Perhaps looking at the big picture is needed before we make the Penguins owners, management, players and peanut venders walk the plank. Yes, the Penguins had an early first round exit. The Penguins didn’t lose in 5 games to an eighth seeded team like the Canucks. The Penguins weren’t the defending Cup champions who got ousted by a seventh place team. The Penguins lost to the third best team in the Eastern Conference.
When you look at how the teams finished during the regular season, the NHL had the 2nd place Penguins play the 3rd ranked Flyers. Stupid is probably be the nicest way to describe that. This does not hide the fact that the Penguins lost handily.
The Penguins have one of the best skilled teams in the NHL. There is no way to sugar coat this, the Penguins were out coached. This does not mean the Penguins should make a coaching change. Dan Bylsma has won a Jack Adams coach of the year award and a Stanley Cup as coach of the Penguins. You hear people say that he was not quick to make changes. If he did rush to make changes people would say “why didn’t he stick with what was working?”.
Dan Bylsma is one of the top 5 coaches in the NHL and the other 4 are not available. Firing him would be a stupid move.
The Penguins do have some problem areas they need to address. The number one area they need help in is leadership. Sidney Crosby does a great job as captain of the team, there are few better in the NHL. Immediately following Crosby on the leadership chart is nothing, zero, zilch. Brooks Orpik, Jordan Staal & Evgeni Malkin are all great players. Not one of them is a qualified leader.
One of the Flyers plans was to expose the maturity of the Penguins squad. They successfully to infuriated the Penguins squad with in between play face washes, bumping & Cross checks. Ray Shero needs to find another Billy Geurin type player and or an assistant coach that knows and wouldn’t be afraid to implement the tricks of the trade.
The Flyers also exposed a few problems with the Penguins defense. Zbynek Michalek was out of position most of the series along with much of the season. It’s like he just refuses to clear anyone from in front of the net. They say you need to give 110% to win a cup. I think Michalek gave about 50%.
Paul Martin also struggled. He had A few untimely changes and a hard time stopping the pass on the odd man breaks. My personal opinion is that Martin gets a bum rap because he was scrambling trying to fix Michalek’s crap all season. I think the coaches see the same thing. Martin played against the top lines and played more than any other Penguins player this season.
Everyone said wow Martin looks way better paired with Letang. What they didn’t notice was that Orpik was falling apart paired with Michalek. Martin & Michalek proved they are fantastic in a defensive style system last year and equally proved they have a hard time of it in an open style system this year.
Jonathan Willis over at the Edmonton Journal is thinking the Oilers should be looking at Martin & Michalek to stabilize their blue line. “If the Edmonton Oilers need defense, could the Pittsburgh Penguins provide it?” The only problem is that Edmonton would need to dispose of some salary to take them in. Do they have anything the Penguins would be interested in?
It’s time the Penguins bring up their brilliant younger defensive players. Simon Despres & Brian Strait looked like they are up to the task. The one thing we know is that they thrive playing Bylsma’s system with the WBS Penguins.
The Penguins need a gritty borderline crazy defenseman. A guy that makes the other teams players think before skating freely into the zone.
There are no if, but’s or candy nuts about it, Marc-Andre Fleury played horrible. The Penguins need a better back-up goaltender for when this happens. Brent Johnson is not the answer and after watching Brad Thiessen, I’m afraid he will never be the guy.
Dan Bylsma must try radical new thinking here. All you heard about leading up to the playoffs was getting Fleury some rest. Instead of rest, play Fleury more. He’s only 27 years old, he can take it. The more he plays the better he plays. Martin Brodeur who is the all time winning goaltender in NHL history averaged about 74 games a year from age 27 to 35.
Signings & Trades
Sidney Crosby should get whatever he wants. Crosby has a very level head and will ask for a respectable salary that will pay him well and not hurt the team at the same time.
Jordan Staal is a horse of a different color. There are rumors galore about Staal. Penguins GM Shero’s best move would be to get Crosby’s contract in place fast. From there he will have a better idea what he has to work with in order to keep or trade Staal.
Long time Pittsburgh journalist Alan Robinson has alluded to the fact that Staal is unhappy as the Penguins third line center and that he would like a chance on one of the top lines. Staal has the potential to be the scoring winger the Penguins need on either Malkin or Crosby’s line.
If Staal has no interest in re-signing with the Penguins it would seem that Ray Shero would have no shortage of suitors.
There are rumors galore that Carolina would be interested in uniting the Staal brothers. Carolina doesn’t have much that the Penguins would be interested in being overloaded with centers themselves. If it were to happen I would venture to guess Staal for center Ruutu, defenseman Gleason and draft picks.
The same Edmonton paper that claimed the Oilers should be interested in Martin & Michalek have reported that they Oilers may be interested in parting with this years first over-all pick for Staal.
The best idea I have heard is a trade to Toronto for defenseman Luke Schenn & winger Nikolai Kulemin. This would be a trade that would help both teams.
The Penguins need to fill in a few of the low level roster spots that are up for signing. Players who don’t have playoff experience in the rougher eastern conference need not apply. These players must have a hunger for the Cup that this team lacked. The players must be willing to give up their body to block the puck. Something this group of Penguins didn’t do which showed in their overall lack of heart.
This has a lot to do with coaching. Max Talbot is the best example. Talbot was a good player that was sinking fast in Pittsburgh. He had already won the Cup that he wanted to win and was loved by the fans. You can say it was a bad move letting Talbot go, but if he would have stayed here it would have been more of the same mediocrity.
The Penguins coaches need to bring the hunger back out in the players and or get new players that have it. Bylsma knows he must make a good run at the cup next saeason or it’s over.
It is going to be a very interesting off season.