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Penguins Easy Pickins – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Easy Pickins

“We want to be a team that’s tough to play against.”

Remember when former GM Ray Shero uttered those words? Shortly after he took over the reins from Craig Patrick in the summer of 2006? It seems like a lifetime ago.

Shero backed up his words by building a team that could physically compete. Guys like Matt Cooke, Ryan Malone, Brooks Orpik, Gary Roberts, Mike Rupp, and Jarkko Ruutu even extracted a pound of flesh now and then. They were a joy to watch.

Those days are long gone. Our present-day Pens more closely resemble the powder-puff squad of the mid-2000s. The one former coach Michel Therrien dismissed as “soff.”

Opponents are well aware of our sudden vulnerability. They’re only too eager to take advantage. Deny our undersized forwards the middle of the ice and lean on our paperweight defense. The Pens will fold like a cheap suit.

Just ask the Columbus Blue Jackets. Flexing their considerable muscle, they stormed back from a 2-0 deficit yesterday to bury the Pens, 5-3. It was the third time in six games the black and gold have blown a two-goal lead.

Few players have answered the bell. Sidney Crosby looks like “the Kid” of old, scoring key goals and hustling every shift. Patric Hornqvist battles for every inch of space. Daniel Winnik’s been solid. Brandon Sutter’s elevated his game.

They’re squarely in the minority. Most of the team looks lost. Tired, fragile and, at times, disinterested. Indeed, coach Mike Johnston’s pleas seem to fall on deaf ears.

Hardly a recipe for a long and glorious postseason run.

“It’s embarrassing,” Ben Lovejoy told Josh Yohe of the Tribune Review. “We aren’t playing like a team that deserves to be in the playoffs.”

“We haven’t played well enough for the last few months, really,” echoed veteran Craig Adams.

Whether the Pens make the playoffs or not is a moot point. Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in their primes couldn’t lift this team to a Stanley Cup. Way too many passengers. Way too few leaders.

GM Jim Rutherford has his work cut out for him. If he still has a job.

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4 Comments

  1. April 5, 2015 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    I was aware that this team wouldn’t be as good as last season with all of these changes, but my god. The past fifteen games have been disgraceful. Just a horrid team to watch all-around. How many times have they missed an opportunity to score a wide open net? Crazy. James Neal’s quick release along with his hard accurate shot is greatly missed.

    There isn’t enough secondary scoring with this team. The lack of consistency is apparent. Too many weak-minded individuals. No team loyalty. Not the fastest skating. Undersized. Undisciplined. Weak on the puck. Soft on the back end. Poor durability. This team is not built to compete in the playoffs.

    Today was another example why Pittsburgh is not a legitimate contender. They couldn’t bury the puck in the net. Running into a performance like what Steve Mason had is almost a guarantee in the playoffs. How can this team be expected score more than two goals a game on goalies like Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist, Ben Bishop, Tuukka Rask and the list goes on?

    An event during the game which made me laugh was when Zac Rinaldo challenged the whole bench. What a disgrace that was. I’ve never been more embarrassed as a fan of the penguins. Why hasn’t anyone challenge him to a fight after the hit on Letang? You know that Eric Godard, Arron Asham, Mike Talbot, Mike Rupp, or Deryk Engelland would have retaliated. It’s sad. Major changes need to be made. The entire organization needs to retool.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      April 6, 2015 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Chris, you summed things up perfectly. Especially the second paragraph, where you ticked off a litany of the Pens’ weaknesses and shortcomings.

      They just aren’t very good in any of facet of the game right now. Once again, we have a puck possession team that struggles to possess the puck. At least when it really matters.

      Your description of the Rinaldo incident struck a nerve. I go back a long ways. In particular, I remember the 1973-74 team. Reasonably skilled by the standards of the day with guys like Syl Apps, Dave Burrows, Jean Pronovost and Lowell MacDonald. But little in the way of muscle. The Flyers would come in and literally chase the Pens out of the Civic Arena. It was mortifying. The goalie on that team? Jim Rutherford.

      I agree 100%…as an organization they need to completely rethink their approach.

  2. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    April 5, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Yes Rick, we are very easy pickings.The Pens are not an Elite team anymore. The NHL and Pens media keep telling us we are,but after this years early play off exit will tell the real story. The Bluejackets and the Flyers just beat a very soft and STUPID PENS team. We simply take to many dumb penalties.The Flyers scored 3 times on their power play. Plus we can not play a complete 60 minute game anymore. We lost 9 of our last 12 games.Ottawa are 17 and 1 !

    Next year,what will be any different Rick? We have no elite forward talent with size in the farm system.No top draft picks to add new talent.No cap space to acquire the 5 or 6 elite players we need to be competitive again. ( We need a lot of help to compete for the Cup,not just 1 or 2 players and a new Coach.)

    Almost every other team in the East has lots of young talent and they should get better next year. Unfortunately, we will not get any better next year with out a major shake up. Tampa,Florida,Columbus,Islanders,Washington,Montreal,Flyers,Detroit,Bostonand Ottawa all have more young talent than we do. They should get better..
    How will we get any better ? Our team’s # 1 draft pick is 175 pounds. Please !!!

    I want to be proven wrong. Lets go Pens.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      April 6, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Hey Jim.

      You made some excellent points. Especially your comment about next season.

      The future doesn’t look too bright, does it? Once again, we have quite a few pending UFAs (Adams, Comeau, Downie, Ehrhoff, Martin the most prominent). Not to mention players still under contract (Kunitz and Scuderi) who are in decline.

      Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. Perhaps it’ll force the Pens to go with some kids. Problem is, there aren’t a lot of blue-chip forward prospects in the organization. My guess is Kapanen will be here, and Sundqvist, too. There’s no guarantee they’ll emerge as impact players, which the Pens desperately need.

      Right now, there are a lot more question marks than answers…


            

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