bigredbaer's Blog

After seeing the Pittsburgh Penguins take a large fall in the standings, going 2-5-1 in their last eight games, it's hard not to see several things in their game. Granted this is a fans idea, not professional opinion, but I think I'm pretty square in my thinking. It's obvious right now that the Penguins lack three things that are essential to any sports team, not just hockey. They are missing continuity, consistency, and electricity.

Let me explain what I mean by each of these:

There is not any continuity in their game, from the fluctuation of offensive as well as defensive pairings, to who is starting in the net. I don't pin this one as much on the players as I do on the coaching staff. Make a line, watch them play, use some constructive criticism, but let them gel as a unit. You cannot switch a line after a game without perfection. If you want Sykora to play beside Crosby, let him play there. If you want Christensen beside Malkin, do that. Don't jump to judgment after one or two games.

There is no reason, other than power plays or late game deficits, that Malkin and Crosby should be playing beside each other. If you join the two best threats on your team, you allow the best defense work at shutting both down; if you separate them, you make the opponent try to figure out which line to attempt to shut down, and more often than not, that's going to open two-line scoring (hopefully four).

Marc-Andre Fleury is the franchise goaltender. Has Sabourin played well? Yes. Should he be the starter? No. If you shore up that porous defense, Fleury will not have to face loads of shots each night. Let him get his confidence back, without it he is hopeless, and sitting on the bench does not help your confidence.

The second thing the Penguins need is consistency. I'm just as tired as anyone at seeing five goals against a good defensive team like New Jersey one night, followed by one against overrated Flyer and Ranger teams. It needs to stop. We need to see more goals by Talbot, Christensen and especially Recchi. If he is going to play on scoring lines, he needs to score. If he cannot perform anymore, maybe it's time to make him this years John Leclair.

Also, once again, it's time for Fleury to step up. You can't give a solid effort one game, and then let in crappy goals from below the goal-line or out by the blue-line. It's got to stop. Sure, everyone is going to have a bad game. But year-in, year-out it's the same for this guy. Think of this next time you criticize Fleury about a bad game, though; when Sid goes pointless for two games and has a minus rating in both, do you replace him or do you let him work out of his funk? So, maybe the same respect should be given for a goaltender.

Lastly, electricity needs to surge back through this team. During the second half of last season there was not a more electric team in all the league. It wasn't just the top line either, it was the Ruutu line, the Malkin line, the Crosby line, the goaltender, everything. It needs to go back to that.

It seems lately that the only line that is jumping is the Crosby-Malkin-Malone line. If the Pens have a chance of turning this season around (yeah, I know...they aren't that far back), it has to start now. They cannot afford to fall far back from the Flyers and Rangers. They should be atop the division. Anything less than that for this team is underachieving.

Let's Go Pens. Get your groove back, and show us what you're capable of. We all know you want it, show us that's true when you're on the ice, not in the pre/post-game interviews. We know it's in you and it's just a matter of time, but the problem with time is you wait to long, and it's gone.


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