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Are the Penguins Primed for a Collapse? – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Are the Penguins Primed for a Collapse?

It was a pretty goal. Especially by recent black-and-gold standards. Beau Bennett cruised into the slot, gathered up a loose puck, and slipped it through the goalie’s five-hole.

Problem is, it was Marc-Andre Fleury’s five-hole.

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Bennett’s wrong-way play seems to epitomize the plight of the Penguins, who’ve lost four straight. A team built to score goals suddenly can’t buy one. Especially on the once vaunted power-play.

Injuries to Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist—arguably the team’s most dynamic players—haven’t helped. Nor has Sidney Crosby’s mysterious inability to carry the team—even for short durations.

The controversial deadline deals designed to shore up the defense have backfired. The Ian Cole-Rob Scuderi tandem, which abandoned Fleury on the second Dallas goal Thursday night, seems particularly vulnerable. A minus in five of his past six games, Scuderi’s reverted to last season’s subpar form. So much for the notion he carried ex-partner Simon Despres. Newcomer Cole’s been caught flat-footed with alarming regularity.

If only the maladies stopped there. Chris Kunitz has lost his scoring touch. The fourth line’s a black hole. Kris Letang’s been repeatedly provoked to his boiling point. To top it off, the Pens appear to be mentally (and physically) fragile.

Are they primed for an epic collapse?

It wouldn’t be the first time the Penguins tanked at crunch time. The 1985-86 club entered March a shoo-in to make the playoffs. They won three of their final 16 games. The following season the Pens started 7-0…and went 23-38-12 the rest of the way. The 2001-02 squad was 0-9-1 down the stretch. The next season…2-17-2.

Judging by Rick Tocchet’s perpetually grim expression, the Penguins’ brain trust is deeply concerned. Enough, reports the Tribune Review’s Jason Mackey, to consider sweeping changes. Fourth-line fixture Craig Adams is rumored to be on the outs. Ditto the underachieving Bennett. Replacement candidates include European forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Oskar Sundqvist, and Baby Pens Jayson Megna, Bryan Rust, and Scott Wilson.

Something sure needs to change. During the first period of the Stars game, the Pens were flatter than pita bread.

Maybe some new blood will help.

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15 Comments

  1. jim's Gravatar jim
    April 2, 2015 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    Hey Rick,
    Phili just beat us 4-1…. Flyers lost their past 9 games.They had as many players out as we did.No excuses ! We took 4 penalties in a row. Stupid.No discipline.
    They beat us bad.But 9 other NHL teams have beaten the Flyers in the past 2 weeks.But we couldn’t. No team effort.
    We play Columbus this Saturday and they have won their last 10 games.They play very,very well against us.( We will not have Malkin for this game the Pens radio said).
    We play Phili again,then Islanders,Ottawa, Buffalo. It does not look good. We could end up with only 2 to 4 points.

    This team is not going very far at all. IF WE MAKE THE PLAY OFFS, it will be as a wild card entry and that means we will get either the Rangers, Habs or Lighting as our first round opponents. None of these teams are afraid of us.

    I wonder if the fans will blame the new Coach or the GM ! The real blame belongs to the ownership group and their support of their failed star players.

    Last week I was not to sure, but It now appears we are in for a serious collapse.Being first in our division last year, and now sneaking in the 7 or 8 th spot to the play offs is not what the ownership group was thinking when they fired Shero and company last year.

    Say Good night Sidney !

  2. March 22, 2015 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Yeah looks that way hmmm…

  3. Vincent's Gravatar Vincent
    March 22, 2015 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Ummm. Yes

  4. 55 on point's Gravatar 55 on point
    March 22, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Yes. The proof is on the ice. One has only to compare the recent performance of this team with the recent performance of a team like Ottawa, a far less talented team by almost anyone’s measure, and ask yourself, “What’s the difference?” For me, the answer is all too clear.

    How do you explain a team with so much core talent that wastes a third of their games skating like they don’t care? Or, how long do you squeeze your head in a vice between your palms to prevent yourself from wondering how long ownership will endure replacing coaches while searching for one that these guys will actually want to play for? Or even to wonder if ownership is complicit? How do you dismiss, as most of the media did, a lame excuse for the Despres deal — “We weren’t happy with Simons off-ice development.” — and not scratch that same head and wonder if that wasn’t a back-handed admission of a blown deal before the ink on said deal was even dry? And then wonder who the hell is in charge here?

    This team appears to be in disarray, the same disarray as last year when everyone was calling for Bylsma’s head. The same disarray as six years ago when everybody was calling for Therriens head. Yet not many are asking, or wondering, if anyone who mattered, other than the players, was really calling for anyone’s head? And, if it was ever, indeed, a coaching problem?

    I don’t know how one coaches this team. Obviously no one else knows either. In spite of what everyone clearly sees were some bonehead deals, this is still a talented team that most hockey markets wish they had to watch 82-plus games a season.

    Unfortunately, there will be another early exit, providing they make the playoffs. Then, house cleaning or not, next year the core players who have been eating coaches like pain-killers will still be here and still stuffing the suggestion box with little slips of paper upon which are scrawled these three words, “This guy sucks!”

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      March 23, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Insightful and “on point” as always.

  5. Mark's Gravatar Mark
    March 22, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Naysayers blah…Lets go Pens!

  6. Scott's Gravatar Scott
    March 22, 2015 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Until they make another run deep into the playoffs without bowling leads again… I’d say yes. This team is a long way from the teams of 2008 or 2009.

  7. March 22, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Sad but true,Pens are on a downward spiral. I don’t think it’s bad enough for them to miss the playoffs,but I can see them being out in the first round. Sure JR improved the bottom six from what it was,but still at the end of the day your not going to hoist the Cup with any of those guys. They need to keep the draft picks and build for the future. Sid and Geno won’t be around forever.

  8. Derek's Gravatar Derek
    March 22, 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I still don’t know why they traded Bortuzzo and Despres.

  9. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    March 22, 2015 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Absolutely! Time to clean house!

  10. March 22, 2015 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Yes

  11. Pen's 4ever's Gravatar Pen's 4ever
    March 21, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    OH but all lot of media went on about how good the Cole trade would be for us! Simon is awesome in Anaheim, we can’t score, D-men look weak and not interested in physical play. At least MAF is playing well..problem though if he lets one goal in, well we will lose!!
    1st round pick on Perron stills looks terrible, a couple picks and Sill for Winnik, Oh another awful trade.
    Crosby not the player he was nor ever will be, same for Kunitz and Comeau.
    Pen’s send down the one d-man playing very well, but I forgot no experience.

    Prediction.. we miss the playoffs by one point

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      March 21, 2015 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Pen’s 4ever,
      I too think that the Pen’s are in real trouble.I am surprised that Cole has not played better to date.I am hoping he needs a few more games to be more adjusted to his new team. Probably just wishful thinking on my part. Being a optimist,I believe we will make the play offs ….Just barely, but do not like our chances against any of the top FOUR teams we may be playing in the first round. We simply do not have the depth to compete ! Size,skill,grit,speed,youth…The rest of our Conference has improved. Have we ?
      Everyone talks about our POWER PLAY and it’s collapse.My theory is that the rest of the elite teams in the league have gotten much better at the Penalty Kill as the season goes on, and our skill level on our team has not risen to match it.Same thing happened last year. Is not the purpose of the regular season, to get better for the Play offs ? Your prediction could be right, mine only extends the season by TWO MORE GAMES. Not much difference in the big picture.
      Majority owner Ron Burkle must be very,very concerned.It is his money their playing with !!

      I really want to be proven wrong ! Lets go Pens.

      • Fred's Gravatar Fred
        March 21, 2015 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

        Very bad trades,no chemistry as of yet. Lovejoy,not that good,I’d rather have Simon back,well really all the last minute trades look bad. Sid’s not the player he was,and may never be. He’s just not a game changer anymore.

        • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
          March 22, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

          Hey all,

          Great points. I share so many of your concerns. Fred, I agree, the trades (and subsequent injuries to Malkin and Hornqvist) really seem to have derailed the Penguins’ on-ice chemistry.

          On the plus side, it sure was good to snap the losing streak and get two points against Arizona last night. The Pens aren’t out of the woods…not by a long shot. But it was a step in the right direction.

          Another positive. After turning the puck over on the Coyotes’ goal, I thought Crosby played an inspired game. He looked like the Sid of old, buzzing around, making plays, and forcing the defense to react. Turnover aside, he worked really hard in his own end, too.

          It was the kind of lead-by-example effort we’ve come to expect from Sid through the years…and maybe haven’t seen as much this season. Let’s hope it continues.

          LET’S GO PENS!


            

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