Big Lead Sports Bar

1/03/2009

Koz: WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE PENS?




All right, I’ve had it. I’ve been quiet this year, because I think there are plenty of people writing about hockey/Penguins, with more access and insight than I’ve had lately, and I don’t need to regurgitate the same stuff or stir the pot unnecessarily inciting panic among the mighty Penguin fanbase.

In an 82 game season, in a league where more than half the teams make the playoffs, it’s easy to gloss over a midseason slump like this. But we all know this is unacceptable, and the Penguins look like crap. There are a few things I want to mention that haven’t already been addressed ad nauseum, and certainly not here at Mondesi’s House.

Some people (my mom and brother) think Therrien is the issue. I don’t agree and apparently neither do the players. The Penguins strategy looks sound. Dumping and chasing the puck on the powerplay isn’t the problem – not getting the puck out of the corner is the problem. Not playing the puck back to the point (as Bob Errey pointed out on New Year’s Day) is a problem.

After the players-only closed door meeting, Coach Therrien alluded to players focused on “personal agendas.” Brooks Orpik, who seems to be good for telling it like it is as much as any athlete tip-toeing through a newspaper quote referenced, “team attitude” and “preparation.”

I’ve never been in a players-only-closed-door meeting, but I imagine it to be very similar to the “family meeting” where everyone sits around the dinner table and blows of steam and calls out each other for using all the hot water in the shower or not taking out the trash.

So who are these selfish Penguins? Who doesn’t have the right attitude or work ethic? I don’t really know, but someone is the problem. What are the personal agendas? Could it possibly have anything to do with Crosby or Malkin and their race for the scoring title? I would have a hard time believing it is, because both stars say all the right things about being team-first and both hate to lose. Could it possibly be subconscious then, causing the Penguins to press too hard to drive the puck through these two stars and not having the confidence to create opportunities elsewhere? Why am I only asking questions?

Where have you gone, Mike Zigomanis? Damn you upper body injury! The Pens rank 21st in the league on faceoffs. Who would have guessed how big of a deal this guy would be? As long as he’s out of the lineup, it seems the Pens will continue to struggle on draws and miss opportunities.

Where have you gone, Miroslav Satan? December was a cold month for Satan, scoring only three goals, each coming in easy wins over weak opponents (vs. Canes, Isles, and Thrashers). The Penguins are 8-2-1 when Satan scores a goal. This guy has to start finding the net again.

Max Talbot is -14! Plus/Minus is a controversial stat for a lot of people, but the next worse Penguin is only -6, so that’s saying something. Now that Talbot is here to stay (recently signing an extension) he’s going to have to shore that up.

He Who Shall Not Be Named followed up my last post with a hat trick, but has since returned to typical form. He continues to be the Penguins best trading chip and continues to drive me crazy missing wide open opportunities (see both games against Boston). Have we ever seen him paired on the wing with Crosby for any length of time? Maybe that’s worth a look just in case, you know before we trade him (LOL j/k, sort of).

Everyone knows what’s expected of the Penguins now. Just making the playoffs or winning a series are not acceptable. Since I’ve spent most of this piece just asking questions, I’ll end with one in classic middle school essay format for you to sound off in the comments.

Do you think this Penguins team, in its current state, is fit to take the Cup? Why or why not?

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13 comments:

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

No

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

No

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

Great minds think alike

Ellie said...

Teams that play like the Penguins are currently don't deserve to win the Cup. The Cup should go to teams playing like Boston at the moment - everyone on the same page, every game.

Who would have though the Pens would have lost their magic so quickly? It is hard to think that less than a year ago we were in the Stanley Cup finals. I'm hoping we can pick up the pieces soon, but if they haven't found the chemistry by now, it's going to be an uphill battle.

Koz said...

I might have written this 24 hours too soon. Good God was that game pathetic.

Jason Marianna said...

Goodness no the pens can't compete for the cup, not the way they play right now.

They can't score, they can't stop the other team from scoring, they have bad goaltending, they clearly don't have any team chemistry, they aren't getting rebounds and they are giving up too many rebounds, they can't win a faceoff, they take too many penalties . . . and the list goes on and on.

They SUCK. Plain and simple SUCK. They are doing NOTHING right and NOTHING well. Period. It's really that simple.

What I would do to improve the penguins right now:

-Trade for a strong goal scoring machine at wing. Possibly get two. Give up what you have to short of Crosby, Malkin, and Fluery.

-Find someone, ANYONE, who is willing to become a complete physical force on the ice. I want one thing from this guy: Hit as many opposing players as hard as you possibly can, as often as possible, without committing a penalty.

-Light a fire under Fluery's backside. Maybe threaten to send him to WBS for a week. I dunno. Find a way to get this guy to concentrate. Giving up goals is about how fundamentally sound you are. Giving up bad goals, like what Fluery is doing, is about concentration. He's got the fundamental skills. He's naturally gifted, and although he might get beat from time to time, it's ok, everyone does. But bad goals are unacceptable. Concentrate.

-Thank Sid for being such a nice guy, but encourage him, hell, require him, to be way more selfish. Yes, he makes plays. Yes, he makes other people better. But that play making ability can be used for goal scoring too.

-Burn the blue jerseys.

-Pray

AJ said...

The Pens have a tradition of not signing their grinders to long term deals and instead get rent-players every two seasons for the 3rd and 4th lines. I think that philosophy has bit them in the ass a little this year.

It's going to take a miracle to turn this season around. I just don't think they have the right pieces.

Koz said...

from the PG:

""This is [Marc-Andre] Fleury's team, this is [Sidney] Crosby's team, this is [Evgeni] Malkin's team. [Ryan] Whitney. This is their team."


Notice no one ever says it's He Who Shall No Longer Be Named's team.

Trade bait.

Chip said...

To be fair, how are you going to be a leader when you're 19 and on a team with the two best players in the world ahead of you?

He's going to be a star for whomever gets him, don't kid yourself on that one. But on this team, three star centers is not a luxury they can afford.

Shero needs to turn him into his Ronnie Francis deal where he gets a talented winger, good skating defenseman, and maybe a 3rd line grinder.

I realized we were in big trouble this off season when we had dreams of Jagr and Naslund dancing in our heads...and settled for Satan. That'd be like replacing Kevin Stevens on Mario's line with Troy Loney.

Also, in this off-season, they need to look at moving Gonchar as well. He eats up too much cap room when all he provides is a pointman and we can see the PP works fine without him.

Finally, anybody who saw the Red Wings coach make a fool out of Therrien in the Cup finals last year knows he isn't much of a tactician. I can't see how his job could possibly be safe.

Koz said...

Chip --

The PP is "fine" without Gonchar? Really?

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

I hope you were being sarcastic when you said the powerplay was fine.

Jason Marianna said...

Chip,

The PP is fine? You're kidding right?

I'm fine with trading Gonch. I can certainly see the wisdom in freeing up cap room, but they will have to find someone with the breakout skills and the PP point abilities of Gonch, otherwise it will be a step in the wrong direction.

In the end it might be better or easier to keep him.

And Therrien is fine. He didn't get out maneuvered last year, he essentially lost Malkin and the Wings removed the physical aspect of the game (which is their style). Plus, remember, the wings are pretty good.

BurressWithButterflyWings said...

No chance can this team in this state compete for a cup.

The power(less) play is horrendous without Gonchar. He was the guy who brought the puck into the zone and managed from the point extremely well; not to mention gets the puck to the net with authority!

We miss Malone in front of the net because He Who Shall Not Be Named is virtually ineffective, in nearly every phase of the game. I have nicknamed him The Magician because disappearing from the stat sheet seems to be his best trick.

We are also seeing, almost nightly, the opposing goaltender playing out of his mind and bialing his teammates out, while our goaltenders can't save a slapper right in the chest.

You need top notch goaltending to contend for a cup.