"There he is, just thinking," Penguins announcer Bob Errey observed, as the Root Sports Pittsburgh camera found its way to Mario Lemieux's box. "How many times have you seen him with his hand on his face, just thinking, where does the team go from here. Actually, I don't know what he's thinking." No, Bob, you really don't. But that's exactly what we're thinking.
|OK, that's what he's thinking, too.|
A way forward, after the jump...
1) We repeat: Don't panic. Overreacting in the middle of a losing streak is the last thing management should do.
2) Be honest. Even if you put aside the Crosby injury for a moment, which is very difficult to do, there are a lot of other flaws with this team. To simply sit back and say, "well, if everyone is healthy, we'll be fine" is not good enough. Here are some of note:
- The Pens are too soff. They have the puck a lot, particularly in the first period, but all the puck possession time in the world isn't going to make the other team uncomfortable. Right now, the Pens can get 40 shots on any given night, but it's the easiest 40 shots the opponent will ever see. This isn't unlike 2009, when Shero saw a gaping lack of physicality and brought in Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin.
- A Park-Sullivan-Kennedy line isn't going to cut it, no matter how many injuries there are.
- Arron Asham is playing like he doesn't care, or just doesn't want to get hurt. Whatever the Pens lost over the years by letting guys like Rupp, Talbot, etc. go, it has not been replaced by Asham. When he was on the Flyers, he was a pain in the ass for the Pens. Now that he's on the Pens, he's still a pain in the ass for the Pens.
- Ben Lovejoy is getting worse. The Penguins have a goals-against average of 2.6 in games where Paul Martin is in the lineup. The GAA is 2.86 when he's on the shelf. Yes, he had a rough start, but this is real. The single biggest thing this team needs aside from its health is stability on the back end. No one should pretend that we can just plug bodies in on defense without significant repercussions.
3) Call out the crowd. It's no surprise that the fan base's energy level is down given the trauma of the past year. But the in-game crowd at Consol is abysmal. Brutal. The worst. Fans who pay money can do and say whatever they want -- but so can the players and coaches. If Dan Bylsma got up and said, "yeah, we suck right now and it has nothing to do with the fans, but we really need your help to get out of this," many people would take that the wrong way. At GTOG, we'd give him a standing ovation.