Just a week ago the Penguins had started the season 0-3-0 and the sky was falling on the Penguins promising season. Unexpected goalies made the Penguins look like they were shooting at a brick wall. When the team was supposed to be one of the most talented teams especially for their offense. Then the Penguins made a few moves most notably sending down veteran players and calling up younger players and the Penguins looked different. Sidney Crosby also decided it was a good time to start shooting. Though he has yet to register a point on the season it does help to open up the offense. There are many issues with the Penguins but most of them are fixable.
The team was blown up after last year’s struggles down the stretch and in the playoffs. The issue here is that even with all the changes to the team, this year’s team looked a lot like the team that was struggling last year. This year’s team though has arguably the best top two lines in all of the NHL. It makes sense that fans were uneasy watching them look stagnant against two teams that failed to make the playoffs last year, in Arizona and Dallas.
Last year the team started off with a 23-9-5 record through the first three months. They were satisfied with their play and often overlooked their weaknesses because it didn’t make a difference. Then other teams started to figure out the Penguins weaknesses and they exploited them. This year they are not coming out of the gates a little slower. It may be beneficial to the team over the course of a full season. Now they can see what their weakness are now and fix them now before they become bad habits.
It is too early to call for the firing of Mike Johnston, even if he does sometimes seem lost behind the bench. His rookie year started out with a very hot start and if it hadn’t been for injuries and mismanagement of the salary cap then last year’s Penguin team could have made a lot of noise in the playoffs. It does become apparent that sometimes he is a young coach with little experience. One that was hired to really just let Crosby and Malkin play. Coaching is an issue but not one that needs to change anytime soon.
Crosby has been the Captain of the Penguins since 2007-08 season. He is a tremendous player with amazing talent. He has been quoted as saying,
“…in this jersey, I promise to play for the logo on the front and not the name on the back.”
This is admirable and any fan wants to hear this. However, sometimes I think Crosby needs to be a little selfish. It seems that he would rather pass then shot. This makes for a great center and captain, but the team needs him to get his shots up to be a better team. Just putting the shot on the goal can often make it easy for his line mates, Kessel and Kunitz, to put the rebound in the back of the net. Teams know how important his success is tied to the Penguins success. That is why they try and get under his skin and put players on him just to disrupt his flow to the game.
Lastly, this team has a lot of new players on it. They have added a lot of different pieces to the puzzle. The preseason was longer but often didn’t have the same players on the same lines. They also wanted to see what their younger players looked like. It made it difficult for the team to be able to trust each other. In their last two wins, it seemed like the lines were getting more comfortable with each other. The season is long and just because they have started slow is no reason to throw in the towel. This team has the talent to be a dangerous team. That could make a deep playoff run. A little slow start may be forgotten once the calendar turns over.