The Piittsburgh Penguins come out of last nights game against the Maple Leafs with a record of 27-25-5 which is good (or not so good) for tenth place in the eastern conference. They are 5 points out of a playoff spot, just one year after losing in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Detroit Red Wings.
It is time for a change. I, usually, am the last person to panic, but how this team is playing it is hard not to. After the Penguins beat the Sharks 2-1 and played a great game, many thought they had turned the corner. They had to keep the momentum going into their next game. What do they do? Get a quick 2-0 lead and everything looked good. Then it all went down from there. They lost the game 6-2, giving up 5 third period goals. You can't blame Marc-Andre Fleury for those goals, his defense let him out to dry. He faced 41 shots, and honestly the game could have been 10-2 if he was not in goal.
What needs to change:
- Coaching: We are constantly outcoached, and Therrien is probably the worst coach at making adjustments. An adjustment for him is changing all of his lines and stop chemistry between players from forming. He is not the good coach many think of him to be. Last year we went to the SCF in spite of him, and this year his poor coaching is starting to show. He has lost the room, and until a change is made I do not see the Penguins playing with the emotion we saw early this year and last year.
- Coaching (again): Therrien is not our only coaching problem. Mike Yeo should have been gone a while ago. We are currently 24th in the league on the Power Play, and dead last on the power play on the road. Pathetic. We are also 20th in penalty kill. Something needs to change with special teams, a team with players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin should never be that bad on the power play, and a team with Jordan Staal, Rob Scuderi, and Hal Gill should not be that bad on the Penalty Kill.
- Wingers: We have one legitiment winger in Petr Sykora. After that it is all down hill. We have Miroslav Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko, Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis, and Eric Godard. Not one of those 5 are top 2 line wingers. When you need 4 wingers for the top 2 lines, and only 1 on the whole team that belongs there you can only blame management.
- Defense: We are 21st in the league in goals against per game, and you cant blame Fleury for that. We give up 31 shots a game, and he can't stop all of them. Ryan Whitney is a -13 and Brooks Orpik is a -5. They are suposedly our best defensman (not counting Sergei Gonchar because of injury) and are both paid big money.
- Grit: We are a soft team. Besides Matt Cooke, Brooks Orpik, and Eric Godard we do not have much grit. Last year we had Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Jarkoo Ruutu, and Georges Laraque to go alone with Brooks Orpik. No one goes in front of the net this year, and we have no one to put fear into the other teams when they take a cheap shot on one of our players
Who needs to go:
- Michel Therrien: Reasons I stated above
- Jordan Staal: I like Staal, but he is making 4 million to be our third line center. He has all the potential in the world, but we need wingers and Staal has already failed at being a winger for us.
- Ryan Whitney: Has played in 24 games this year and is already a -13 to lead the team. Pathetic. I know he had a foot injury, but his skating has been horrible. He has not been the same since he got his contract after his 59 point season.
- Miroslav Satan: His play speaks for itself
- Mark Eaton: He has been better as of late, but he is not playing at a level that would justify his 2 million dollar salary.
Who we need to resign after the season:
- Petr Sykora: We need his scoring ability, and he wants to stay here. Only legitament winger. He is a UFA after the season.
- Alex Goligoski: Amazing potential, played great this year until they sent him down. He is a RFA after the season.
- Rob Scuderir: Our most consistant defensman, our penalty kill and defense would take a hit without him.
- Mike Zigomanis: His faecofffs were huge this year, we have no one on the team that can consistantly win draws, and he will win 60% of his every year as long as he comes back healthy from his injury.
Thoughts for the rest of the season:
I do not have very high expectations the rest of this season. They often quit, and are not hungry to win. I doubt they make the playoffs, and even if they do they won't get out of the first round. I think it is time to focus on the offseason.
Who we should target this offseason:
- Alexei Kovalev: He was loved here before, and we would welcome him with open arms. Great fit to play with Crosby (even though he would probably want to play with Malkin).
- Johan Franzen: He can put the puck in the net, as simple as that.
- Chris Neil: Gritty player that we need.
- Martin St. Louis: In a trade of course, if we could get him in a deal and give up either Staal or Whitney, would be a good deal as long as Caputi or Goligoski are involved.
Here are the moves I'd make this offseason (starting with 0 cap space):
Salaries coming off the payroll:
- Satan 3.5 million
- Fedotenko 2.5 million
- Boucher 2.5 million
- Gill 2.075 million
- Garon 1.1 million
- Total: 11.675 million
Hopefully through trade:
- Whitney 4 million
- Staal 2.2 million (all that cost against cap this season)
- Total: 17.875 million
Salaries that are counting against cap next season:
- Malkin 8.7 million
- Talbot 1.05 million
- Kennedy 725,000
- Cap Left: 12.575
Players resigned, signed:
- Sykora 3 million
- Scuderi 2 million
- Goligoski 1 million
- Zigomanis 650,000
- Kovalev 4 million
- Neil 1 million
- Cap space left: about 1 million
2009 Dream and Realistic Lines:
Don't have time to proofread, and sorry if my thoughts are all over the place.