It is 3 AM and I can’t sleep. I heard the snow plows grinding away at their job up here on my hill, doing their job, making sure my neighbors and I have a clear road to drive on. Maybe it was they who woke me up? I don’t know. I have headache as well. Who knows? I am not going to get back to sleep for a while so I might as well rant.
After hearing the snow plows and with the memories of another hockey night of frustration all I can hear is Paul Simon;
“Slip slidin’ away
Slip slidin’ away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you’re slip slidin’ away”
And let’s face it, with each passing loss, so are the Penguins’ three-peat chances.
We have just 1 game left to play in 2017. We did have a great ride to a repeat Championship. Repeating as Stanley Cup Champions is a real tough thing to do. It hadn’t been done in since 1997-1998.
Unfortunately for us Penguins’ fans, 2017 is closing out in a December that we will not want to remember. After capturing a second Cup just 6 short months ago and being crown the best team in hockey, our favorite flightless fowl have strung together a December record that is tied for 23rd in the league, gleaning a mere 12 points to date.
One of the most fearsome offenses in the league last year, has had a month long slump. Our Penguins’ offense, after having chased elite goalies (Sergei Bobrovsky, Braden Holtby, Craig Anderson, and Pekka Rinne) from play-off games has managed to barely cling to the 19th spot in goals/60 minutes (2.58) for their efforts in December. And last night, well our Penguins couldn’t even manage to reach their average, scoring only 1 time off of the stick of Brian Dumoulin.
Does anyone really think that patience is called for? Yes, the team is injured right now, but with nearly half the season gone, it isn’t going to get any better. Had the team taken action a month ago, then maybe, patience and wait for the injured players to get back could have been a watch word. Maybe the team would have been in a position to weather this storm but I can’t help but think that through November it wasn’t patience but burying our heads in the sand. The signs were there. The organization failed to act.
Am I being a knee-jerk reactionary, or maybe just a jerk? Let’s look at the standings; our Penguins are 3 points out of a play-off spot and the team, we need to pass the New York Islanders, has a game in hand on us. You decide.
Odds and Sods
Even though the Parent club is struggling, Wilkes Barre – Scranton (WBS) is back on in the win column, crushing Hartford 5 – 1. Daniel Sprong had the hat trick and added an assist for a 4 point night. Teddy Blueger and Adam Johnson had 2 assists a piece and Zach Aston-Reese notched a short-handed goal for the Baby Penguins.
Sprong now has 18 goals, 28 points, 7 power play goals, a shooting% of 19.1 and has shaved his +/- to -2. You really can’t compare NHL and AHL stats but I still am going to wonder out loud why he remains in WBS when the parent club is struggling to score goals and has players like Conor Sheary (-8) playing, players who have not yet been on the plus side of their +/- all season and have gone very long stretches without scoring. I mention Sheary but he isn’t the only one.
Sprong has been on the plus side at times this season and is hovering near even. Furthermore, a team that is 27th in the league in shooting% (8.0) should be looking to add someone who can find the back of the net. Even if his shooting % were cut in half at the NHL level it would still raise the Parent clubs overall team shooting%.
Hockey is about outscoring your opponent any possible way, even strength or on the power play. Scoring 1 or 2 goals per game this season isn’t going to win you many hockey games. This Penguin team needs to score goals.
Team Sweden and Penguin prospect Filip Gustavsson take to the ice again this afternoon against Switzerland in the 2018 World Junior Championships against Team Switzerland. Good Luck Gustavsson!