Monday, January 9, 2012

Attention Penguin Fans: DON'T PANIC! STAY CALM! WE NEED TO KEEP OUR COMPOSURE!

By Artistry

Between the near total lack of information about Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang and new injuries to Jordan Staal, James Neal, and Craig Adams, we're facing a Lord of the Flies situation among Pens' fans and media on Twitter right now.  We can only hope that none of the people calling for the Pens to shut Crosby down for the season RIGHT NOW or to execute a swift and significant roster shakeup ever has a finger on a nuclear trigger.  We understand the frustration.  We share it.  And we don't disagree with much about this Pensblog post on Crosby.  As discussed during Sunday's GTOG's podcast, the uncertainty surrounding Crosby's status has demoralized the fanbase and looks like it's beginning to infect the locker room.  That can't happen.  Here's what Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma should focus on this week:

1) Get the players in the loop. Dan Bylsma walking into a room, making really good eye contact, and saying, "The standard is the standard" isn't enough anymore. It's not fair to the players to be kept completely in the dark about the Crosby and Letang injuries, and it's not fair that the coaches are forced to try to convince them they shouldn't think about such things.  They should know what management knows, and what Crosby knows. We don't subscribe to the theory that Sid or Sid's "camp" is keeping information from management, but as team captain, maybe a pep talk for the boys is in order.

Time for extreme close-up

2) Give Brooks Orpik the "C."   We're fairly sure Jack Adams himself couldn't single-handedly shoulder the burden of getting this injury-ridden team to believe it can compete every night with teams like Boston and New York.  That belief needs to start with the players.

3) Let's reconvene on February 20, 2012.  That's a week before the February 27 trade deadline, which, for the calendar-challenged among us, is SEVEN WEEKS AWAY.  The Penguins are 21-15-4.  If they manage to win only 7 of the next 19 games through 2/20/12, they'll still have a winning record and remain in playoff contention.  A team with Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, and a hard-working supporting cast should be able to do that if it doesn't buy into the absurd notion that all hope is lost.  How do we know this?  Because a team featuring Bret Sterling, Tim Wallace, and Chris Conner for long stretches last season managed to rack up 106 points.  In six weeks, we should once again be looking at a lineup featuring at least Malkin, Fleury, Neal, and Staal.  In six weeks, we may have Letang back.  In six weeks, we may have some better idea where we are with Sid.  The feeling of uncertainty now is just that: a feeling.  Deal with it.  Things will be different as the trade deadline approaches - and we'll address that reality when we get there.

We may not enjoy these next two months of Penguins hockey, but if everyone remembers to breathe, indications are we'll live right through it.

5 comments:

  1. Great perspective that the trade deadline is 7 weeks and Neal and Staal could most likely be back within 6. When you look at it like that (and the number of games played), the season isn't even halfway over.

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  2. Wait, re: #1, have we actually been informed that the players are "in the dark" about Crosby and Letang? That's an honest question, not snark - if there was something written about this that I missed, I'd love to catch up.

    But if it's "the players aren't telling us anything, so they must not know anything" well, it's not really their place to disclose anything about teammates' injuries. And if we're speculating about what they know based on how they're playing, I think that's even more shaky.

    That said, I 100% agree that we need to wait it out a bit. Aside from the concussions, these current injuries have set timetables, and unless we hear otherwise, those guys are coming back well before the end of the regular season.

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  3. Good point. Dejan Kovacevic has mentioned at least a couple of times that the Pens players seem to have no idea what's happening with Sid. (Here's one: http://blog.triblive.com/dejan-kovacevic/2012/01/09/wakeup-call-answer-the-questions-penguins/). But whatever they do or don't know, they seem genuinely dispirited, and that needs to be addressed.

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  4. Consider how hockey-starved we all feel in late July and it will help us appreciate these tough times.

    At least we don't have Pens doing the Pouncey.

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  5. Great points, boys. Except that I would give James Neal the "C" and hopes that the team follows his example, particularly with regard to healing speed.

    Also, just to set things straight - this was not written here, but I see it everywhere else, people suggesting the Pens shut down Sid for the season and "put him on long-term injured reserve". Crosby and Letang are already on LTIR, effective retroactively from the day when they got hurt, and in case both of them come back tomorrow the Pens already have about $3M in excess cap space to spend (which means just about any player in the league on deadline day). Problem is they aren't coming back tomorrow.

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