Monday, March 31, 2014

Eight thoughts on the Pens' two game streak, including Brooks Orpik's hit on Jonathan Toews

By GTOG Staff (follow GTOG on Twitter)

Eight thoughts on the Pens coming out of the weekend...

1. Much is being made of Brooks Orpik's devastating check on Jonathan Toews, so we might as well comment on it.  What a check.  Mike Milbury was near tears on the intermission report and reasoned that because Orpik hits to hurt people, he should be required to fight afterwards.  It's so stupid on a number of levels and Puck Daddy does a good job covering most of them.  But of all the stupid things about Milbury, the stupidest is probably that hitting to hurt is somehow different from hitting to ... umm ... not hurt?  The whole point of hitting is to hurt people.  Otherwise, there is no point -- truly, no point -- in finishing your check.  Saying that a physical game is "wearing the other team down" is another way of saying that the other team is tired of you hurting them by hitting them.  Hitting hurts.  It's supposed to.  When guys are in vulnerable positions, hitting hurts more.  Even the folks in Chicago know what's up.

Not supposed to feel good.
2. The biggest takeaway from the back-to-back wins this weekend is the play of Marc-Andre Fleury.  The Pens' defense is never going to be smothering no matter who is healthy, so he will have to make saves like the stop on Patrick Sharp after Brooks Orpik guarded the rope line along Sharp's red carpet to the net.

More thoughts after the jump...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pens fall to Kings, 3-2; Good loss, bad loss, or meaningless loss?

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

The case for a good loss: The Pens went toe-to-toe with the best of the West without three of their best players and were a bad no-goal call away from tying the game.  The game was teetering on the edge after the Kings' second goal, but the Pens top line -- with some help from Jayson Megna -- responded the way a top line should: driving to the net and scoring an even strength goal.  Taylor Pyatt and Brandon Sutter played with more assertiveness last night than they have shown over the course of the entire season (combined).  The Pens may not have scored on the PP, but their secondary players drew seven penalties (Gibbons (2x), Goc, Megna, Engelland, Stempniak, Sutter).  If they're not going to contribute regularly on the scoresheet, drawing penalties and setting the table for the big guys is a decent alternative.  Jeff Zatkoff didn't give up a clean goal and, more importantly, doesn't feel like a big drop off from Fleury anymore.  In fact, they have the exact same save percentage over the course of the season (.915%), but if you throw out Zatkoff's first two games when he was obviously overwhelmed, he's 12-3-1 with a .926 save percentage.  There's always an obscure goalie who comes out of nowhere to lead a long playoff run.  Why not Zatkoff?

You don't bring that weak shit into Jeff Zatkoff's house.
The case for a bad loss: It took a bizarre no-goal call by the refs to wake the Pens up.  Before that, the game was close but it was flat and emotionless.  The Pens are not playing desperately, which is understandable given that they aren't desperate.  But now we're down to the final 10 games of the season, and for the past 15 games, all we've been hearing from the team is how they have to be more passionate blah blah blah.  Brooks Orpik is channeling his inner Brett Keisel to conspicuously exercise his leadership "behind closed doors," while conveniently avoiding 2 central questions: 1) is anyone listening; and 2) why would anyone listen to Orpik when he is playing as bad as anyone upon whom he is thrusting his leadership?  It's encouraging to see the Pens shift into an extra gear, but it's discouraging that it took the waved-off goal to get there.  Of the top 8 teams in the East, the Pens are tied with Detroit for worst record over the past 10 games (4-5-1).  The penalty killing is slipping and as we saw against Philly in 2012, when the PK disappears, it REALLY disappears.

Here's Brian Gibbons, probably getting knocked over and drawing a penalty.
The case for a meaningless loss: We already know that unless Malkin, Martin and Letang are all healthy for the playoffs, it could be a short spring.  So what happens without them in the lineup is irrelevant because the team without them isn't any more likely to win the Cup than Columbus or Dallas.  They're not going to play a team close to the Kings' level in the first round, and even the scariest teams in the East -- Boston, Tampa, Montreal, NYR, Philly -- are not on the agenda for the Pens in round 1.  So while the long-term concerns may remain, the relevant question is whether the Pens can win a series over Columbus, Detroit, Washington, or Toronto with efforts like last night.  That answer is much closer to a yes.

Bobby B's "flop like a fish" defense could work against Mark Letestu
The verdict is probably somewhere between meaningless and good, with a leaning toward good. Artistry attended the game and describes it thusly:
Good loss: At the start of the first period, I turned to the guy I was with and said, "Forget the score, just watch how much they have the puck and how much we have the puck. I bet it's a 2-1 ratio." When the Pens went down 2-0, I had visions of a total meltdown, Bylsma being fired in the morning, and Orpik acknowledging that his "Let's go boys, come on boys" routine needs a little work. In fact, the boys started to come on. Though he'll never be a fit as a play-making center on the third line, Brandon Sutter looked possessed out there. Jayson Megna and Brian Gibbons made the bottom 6 look positively threatening at times. And the Pens outshot the Kings. Crosby was the best player on the ice in the third against a stifling defense. No quit in that team last night.
Amen. At least it's something.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Podcast: Pens lose to Phoenix, is there anything to be optimistic about right now?

The Pens lost to the Coyotes and, all things considered, this is a pessimistic time for a team that's still comfortably in first place. It's the GTOG Podcast.



Listen above or check out our Spreaker page. To download the podcast directly from iTunes, click here.  Or you can download, listen, and subscribe via the Spreaker app on iTunes by clicking here, or on Android by clicking here.


Breaking down the Eastern Conference playoff odds, plus incorrect predictions

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

The Pens can clinch a playoff spot with a win over Phoenix tonight, but even if they lose, it's close to impossible for the Pens not to win the Metro division.  That locks the Pens into the #2 seed, meaning a rematch with Boston would start in the same city where David Ortiz, in response to a story that he had tested positive for steroids in 2003, put on these nothing-to-hide sunglasses and vowed, "I'm going to get to the bottom of this."

His report is due any day now.
But there's a long, long way to go before the Pens get to any rematch with Boston, who is cruising through March much the same way the Pens cruised through March last year.  The Bruins look like the best team in the East and they are the best team in the East ... at least right now.  For the Pens to emerge from their deceptively difficult path to the Eastern Conference Finals, it will almost certainly require the Pens to be playing at level much higher than their current "let's wait for the powerplay to score and hope for the best" model.  So trying to handicap a Pens-Bruins matchup that would take place two months from now (and may never take place) is pointless; let's instead take a look at each team in the Eastern Conference playoff picture and break down their playoff chances as provided by sportsclubstats.com.



Boston Bruins (100% chance of playoffs)

They're peaking and are dominant by all statistical measures, both traditional and not traditional.  Offensively and defensively, they're the best team in the East.  What makes them so scary is that even if they struggle in one area, they are more than good enough to make up for it in other areas.  Plus, they have a reliable goalie.  Contrast this with a team like the Pens, where if the stars go cold or the defense struggles, they could be swept in 3 games.

Prediction: #1 seed in Atlantic, #1 seed in East

The Pens, and everyone else, after the jump...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Great explanation of the real problem with Brandon Sutter

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

From @LyleKossis comes the most definitive -- or at least my personal favorite -- examination of Brandon Sutter's biggest failing: his inability to relieve any burden from Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.  It's over at Pensburgh and is definitely worth a read.  My favorite snippet (other than the part where he quotes GTOG):
You can see that Bylsma tried to use [Sutter] in a shutdown role with Staal's old linemates. Sutter also had a low zone start, indicating a lot of defensive zone usage. But while Staal was a positive possession player, Sutter was getting crushed. Bylsma (who I don't think is an idiot) would have seen this and thought "Sutter can't handle Staal's minutes, so to avoid continuously making him a liability to this team, I'm going to adjust the match-ups."
Sounds about right.

The advanced metrics and the eye test are in perfect alignment here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Injuries aside, two troubling trends emerge from Penguins getting humiliated by the Flyers

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

The Pens were humiliated by the Flyers this weekend, and while the end result -- two regulation losses -- is completely understandable given that the Pens were missing their 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th (if we're still counting Dupuis) best players, there are two especially troubling takeaways.


Continue reading...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Where did Ray Shero go wrong?

By Artistry

There’s something different about this Penguins team. For the first time in the Sidney Crosby era, the arrow is teetering, and by season’s end, it may be pointing down. Crosby is 26. Evgeni Malkin is 27. They are great, generational talents, but particularly in today’s NHL, not even the best players can single-handedly carry a thin team to a championship. And whatever you can say in praise of these Penguins – despite their showing this weekend, they are still a juggernaut in the regular season even with like 8,000 man games lost – they are undeniably thin. As in, two injuries away from Taylor Pyatt being your number one left wing thin. As in, when this team loads up all of its big guns on one line, Lee Stempniak is on it thin.

One of the Mega-Powers, Apparently.
How did we get here? Why are we looking at team that likely has no more than a puncher’s chance against Boston or the Western Conference powers and will be hard pressed to beat a team like the Flyers in a first round playoff matchup? Mike Colligan suggested on our recent podcast that the Penguins view this as some sort of transition year.  If indeed Ray Shero and the management team do take that view, it sounds to us like an after-the-fact rationalization for constructing a subpar roster.  And that is exactly what the Penguins have done. No team with Crosby and their Malkin in their prime should even contemplate a transition year, yet here the Pens are, still with major holes in their lineup.

Let's examine where Shero made a wrong turn.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pens beat Caps again, 2-0; Here are some Caps fans trolling the Caps

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

Artistry and I learned our lesson the hard way in 2010.  After Jaroslav Halak brought the Montreal Canadiens back from a 3-1 series defecit to stun the President's Trophy winning Caps, he and I sat by the window at a Starbucks in downtown Washington, D.C. looking at people walking by and debating how upset we thought they were.  Much of this was done because it's just funny when the Caps lose, but a bigger part of it was a sense of relief that the Pens wouldn't have to play a loaded Caps team.  But then the Pens fell to the same Habs team, and it was a sobering reminder that the hockey Gods are always listening.  No matter how fun it is to troll the Caps -- and hooooo boy, is it ever fun -- nothing good can come from it.



So we're not going to troll the Caps today.  We'll let Caps fans do that.  After the jump, check out some selected comments from various Caps message boards.

From RMNB:













From Japer's Rink;







From The Washington Post:




More from The Washington Post:










Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kunitz, Crosby, and Zatkoff; Pens beat Caps, 3-2

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

When the Pens took an awful bench minor with 2 minutes left last night, it seemed like it was the hockey gods trying to even up a game that had been far from even.  The Caps outplayed the Pens for most of the night, save for any time Crosby got the puck with any speed in the neutral zone.  There's something about Sid against the Capitals that just works, but the cliche view -- that it's because he's motivated to do well against Ovechkin -- is bogus.  It's because there's unlimited space on the ice against the Caps; if Crosby can stickhandle over the blueline with control, there's a 90% chance he can pull up and find a trailing defensemen wide open.  And it's because the Caps just don't have the personnel to be able to slow down a great player, let alone shut him down.



This win was satisfying for personal reasons -- it's hilarious to beat the Caps, especially in Washington -- but is another discouraging performance at a time when the Pens should be getting better, not worse.  I don't want to slam on the bottom 6 (again), because with the acquisitions of Goc and Stempniak, that problem is narrowing.  But the focus of it is also sharpening and the magnifying glass, so to speak, is on Tanner Glass and Craig Adams.  Even though they each played less than 9 minutes at 5-on-5, they manage to tilt the ice so far in Washington's favor, that by the time they can hurriedly drag themselves off the ice before the Caps attack again, the Pens are already on their heels.  They are really good penalty killers, and that's valuable.  But they play 5-on-5 hockey like they're killing a penalty.  And that's not valuable.

The eye test that the Pens are failing on a nightly basis, however, is not just due to the worst guys on the team.  Malkin, Crosby & Co. are too easily pinned in their own zone.  Much of this is their own making -- recall the horrible give away by Crosby or Malkin's unfocused dump-in that led to the too many men penalty late -- but much of it is because of the absence of Letang and Martin, the Pens' two best guys at moving the puck.  Scuderi, Orpik and Engelland just don't pass well.  Seeing it in person is illuminating because you can see the target of the pass (who is often 70 feet away, which is a whole other problem), and how the extra stickhandle these guys take or how putting in the forward's feet screws up the entire breakout.  Like Adams and Glass, these guys are really good penalty killers.  I just wish someone would tell them when the penalty expires so they can play real 5-on-5 hockey.

A few other thoughts after the jump...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Podcast: Reflecting on the Pens at the deadline, plus a chat with DJ Apt One

We dissect the Pens at the trade deadline. Did Shero do enough? Or just the right amount? Plus DJ Apt One, the Philly-based DJ born and raised in Pittsburgh, joins us halfway through to talk about being a Pens fan in Philly, the Pens-Flyers rivalry, and his thoughts on the deadline. It's the GTOG Podcast, remixed.



Listen above or check out our Spreaker page. To download the podcast directly from iTunes, click here.  Or you can download, listen, and subscribe via the Spreaker app on iTunes by clicking here, or on Android by clicking here.


Let's Talk Trades: LIVE BLOG

By GTOG Staff

Post will be updated throughout the day...

If you haven't listened already, make sure to check out our trade deadline podcast with Mike Colligan of The Hockey Writers.  Listen below, or click here for more listening options.



4:25pm: Late word that the Pens got Lee Stempniak from Calgary for a 3rd round pick.  Compared to prices paid for some other (better) players, it seems high, but .... this is more like it.  The Pens need bodies, and Stempniak is a capable one who can't be worse than some of the bodies the Pens have been trotting out recently.  Our disappointment is tempered, somewhat.  The Pens have upgraded two forwards.  That's progress.

3:55pm: Other than Goc, it doesn't appear the Pens have made any moves today.  We'll wait for some of the details to come out, but the initial reaction is that this is pretty deflating.  It's one thing to basically stand pat; it's another to fail to address glaring needs to improve a transparently flawed roster.  Goc will be a nice pickup.  He's probably better than Sutter, and Sutter on the fourth line is probably where Sutter belongs. But still.

Were the Pens too hyper-focused on Kesler?  Did Shero get cold feet when it came time to pay what appear to have been affordable prices for a lot of players?  Does Shero not think the Pens are contenders?  Did they just screw up?  Does Shero feel burned by last year? Or does Shero know something we don't about his team?  Are the Pens better off being underdogs?

Some tough questions to answer.

3:40pm: The Caps get Jaroslav Halak from Buffalo.  Washington: where goalies go to have their confidence destroyed. Still nothing from the Pens, and it's looking more and more like that means they did nothing else.

3:20pm: Vanek to Montreal, Moulson to Minnesota.  Two more down.  Chris Stewart, anyone?

3:18pm: No Cammalleri either.  The world awaits.

3:08pm: No Kesler, apparently. As we said on our podcast, the incentive for the Canucks to move him now was unclear.  They can still make the playoffs, and then just trade him in the offseason.

3:00pm: Nothing involving the Pens has been announced, but something will come out soon, we think.  Shero can't come away from this deadline with just Goc.

2:30pm Rob Rossi just retweeted a fake Pierre LeBrun tweet claiming the Pens acquired Thomas Vanek for Sutter and a 1st round pick. Then he apologized by explaining he knew that trade makes no sense anyway.
In other words, Rob Rossi gives Rob Rossi credit for debunking a fake Twitter account after being fooled by the fake Twitter account.

1:55pm: The Pens get Marcel Goc (GAWTCH in Pittsburgh) from Florida for a 5th and 3rd round pick. He makes nothing.  He's ok -- he has 23 points in 62 games which is pretty ehh but he has good "advanced stats" which is at least something.  He's also a center, which means that Brandon Sutter could be on the move as part of a deal for Kesler.

12:46pm: A lot of fans and media are recoiling at the idea of the Pens including Derrick Pouliot in any trade.  Maybe Pouliot will turn out to be all he's hyped to be, but he's still in the Western Hockey League.  That's not even the AHL yet.  The Pens shouldn't abandon him irresponsibly, but he should absolutely be in play for the right deal.  Crosby and Malkin are in their prime.  Pouliot is in the WHL, which suggests he's at least a year away.  There are only so many years you can wait. Once a guy's reputation hits its highest point -- like Pouliot's now -- that's often the best time to trade him.  Also worth noting -- Pouliot is older than Olli Maatta.

12:31pm: The Pens are not getting Ales Hemsky.  He was traded to Ottawa for a 3rd and 5th round pick, plus the Oilers retain half his salary.  Is this a big deal for the Pens?  In a vacuum, no.  Hemsky has 9 goals in 55 games this season.  But as more and more forwards are taken out of play -- for pretty low prices, too -- the risk remains that while the Pens may get the one guy they want (Kesler), they won't get the three guys they need.

11:43am: Marty St. Louis goes to the Rangers for Ryan Callahan and a bunch of picks.  This makes sense for the Rangers, not just because MSL is a good player, but because now they aren't paying Callahan $6M/year.   Trading him was like a psycho turning in his weapon to a Gun Buyback program -- get this away from me before I do something stupid.

What doesn't make sense is how big of a baby MSL has been since his initial Olympic snub.  If his desire to get out of Tampa is due to his beef with Yzerman ... well, that's not really "captain" material.


11:25am:  It seems like forever ago (it was yesterday), but the award for Most Sensible Trade So Far goes to ... gasp ... George McPhee and the Washington Capitals.  They sent a 4th round pick to Anaheim for Dustin Penner, who has 32 points with a meager $2M cap hit.  Would something like this have made sense for the Pens?  Consider the Pens last six 4th round picks -- Ryan Segulla, Matia Marcantuoni, Sean McGuire, Tom Kunhackl, Nick Peterson, Nathan Moon.  Um, yeah.

11:13am: The salary cap seems really confusing for certain people who actually cover the Penguins for a living. We can understand that it causes some confusion, but that's alarming. The natural outgrowth of the confusion is that people who profess to understand the cap tend to think they are geniuses.
Listen, no offense to Jason Botterill, but considering he just needs to put Letang and Martin on LTIR to free up $8.5M in cap space (and then freely play Letang and/or Martin in the post-season with no cap implications), we could be masters, too.

10:40am: CBJ is looking for "immediate help on defense."  Dream scenario: Orpik for Gaborik, straight up. Throw Letang on LTIR, and the money works.  Sell CBJ on the intangibles and all that stuff. WE CAN DREAM, CAN'T WE?

10:26am: Why not Marian Gaborik?  He's a pending UFA with a $7.5M cap hit, so the Pens would have to make some room for him, but as far as rentals go, he could come cheap and could have as big of an upside as anyone.  If he's available, as rumored, Shero should be working the phones.  Gaborik is brittle and his production is declining, but maybe he finds some juvenation with Sid.

10:20am: No team should be more thankful for the No-Trade Clause than the Pens, who seemingly make the short list of preferred destinations for EVERY SINGLE PLAYER who has a no-trade clause.  This is why all the peripheral things the Pens do well -- PR, facilities, relationships with players, likable owner, likable coach/GM -- matter.  Crosby and Malkin help, too.

9:55am: There's a lot of talk that Derrick Pouliot is the key to any move the Pens make for Kesler (or perhaps another off-the-radar forward).  It is said that the Pens' organization is in love with Pouliot.  Two quick thoughts:

1. Of course they're going to say they're in love with Pouliot.  You pump up your own prospects as best you can -- that's the name of the game.  At one point the Pens even professed their love for Simon Despres.  Do the Pens actually love Pouliot?  We don't know, but actions speak louder than words.

2. One reason Shero may feel pressure to include Pouliot in a deal even if he loves Pouliot: The Jordan Staal trade.  Pouliot was picked with the draft pick that the Pens acquired from the Canes, along with Brian Dumoulin and Brandon Sutter.  As good as a draft pick as Pouliot may turn out to be, as of today, all Shero has to show for the trade at the NHL level during 2 years of Crosby's and Malkin's prime is one and a half years of Brandon Sutter.  And last year, the Pens would have still had Staal under contract had they not traded him.

You can go down the chain of causation and say that the draft pick the Pens got enabled them to trade last year's first round pick for Iginla.  Perhaps it's true, and either way, there's no reason to go back and debate the trade, other than to look at how it may impact the Pens' mindset.  Crosby and Malkin aren't going to be in their mid-20's forever.  Not so long from now, they will be approaching 30 and have a ton of mileage.  Kind of like Ryan Kesler.

9:20am: Pens better hope Kesler and the Canucks are looking East. Brandon Sutter's package A package headlined by Brandon Sutter isn't topping the offers of many Western Conference teams.
Poor Sutter, by the way. Imagine the agony of today's cross-country trip to San Jose.

8:45am: The Pens win over the Predators last night was pretty standard -- the top 6 was good, the bottom 6 was not, Bob Bortuzzo got someone really mad at him, and the game was a few posts away from being 6-5.  This formula isn't changing anytime soon unless, of course, it does.

As we inch toward tonight's trade deadline, the pressure is on Ray Shero to plug a bunch of holes -- numerous forwards, including one capable of playing with Crosby; defensive depth; backup goalie; more forwards; more forwards; and more forwards.  Does he make multiple moves, one big move (smells like Mike Cammalleri), or nothing at all?  What we'd like to see at minimum: bring in three forwards who are at least better than the worst three forwards currently on the roster.  Seems like a big ask, but it's a big hole.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Podcast: Mike Colligan on Kesler, Sutter, Pyatt, Orpik and everything Penguins at the trade deadline

Mike Colligan from The Hockey Writers (@MikeColligan) joins us to discuss the state of the Pens at the deadline, including rumors that the Pens are very interested in bringing in Ryan Kesler.  We discuss whether that deal makes sense, the value (or lack thereof) of Brandon Sutter, whether there's any chance of a big shakeup, why Taylor Pyatt is on the Penguins, whether Sidney Crosby is a good leader, and so much more.  Everything you need to know heading into trade deadline day.  It's the GTOG Podcast.



Listen above or check out our Spreaker page. To download the podcast directly from iTunes, click here.  Or you can download, listen, and subscribe via the Spreaker app on iTunes by clicking here, or on Android by clicking here.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Quick Question: Why is Taylor Pyatt on the Penguins?

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

Do you ever find yourself watching the Pens and wondering to yourself, "what on Earth is Taylor Pyatt doing on the Penguins?"  We do.  This is not intended to be a shot at Pyatt.  He has a tragic but heartwarming backstory, and he's lasted 840 games in the league.  That's a significant accomplishment, regardless of whether he ever gets another contract offer after his deal expires at the end of this season.

But really, why is he on this team?


General Manager Ray Shero claimed Pyatt off waivers from the Rangers on January 2nd as the Pens were dealing with injuries to Chris Conner, Andrew Ebbett, and Jayson Megna.  Pyatt's stats at the time -- 1 total assist in 12:39 of ice time per night over 22 games with a -9 rating -- put him on the same torrid scoring pace as Tanner Glass in 2013.  Well, if he can't score, at least he'd be cheap, right?  Wrong.  At age 32 with a $1.55M cap hit, he was actually five years older and a million dollars more expensive that Matt D'Agostini, who the Pens waived for no apparent reason in November despite D'Agostini needing only 8 games with the Pens to collect his own singular point.

Some players bring intangibles that can't be measured with numbers alone -- surely that's why Shero claimed him, right?  I turned to my friend Ben, a Rangers fan who watches every game.  A sampling of his G-chat scouting report on Pyatt:

  • "pyatt is bad. very bad. he was like a 4th overall pick too."
  • "hes awful.  he played a lot for us too in the beginning. and every fan was going nuts."
  • "he used to get quality minutes on the rangers while the entire fan base was like get this fucking guy out of here. then he got elbowed in the head and was out and the team was playing better so they never put him back in. but he is god awful."

Since being claimed in January, Pyatt has 2 goals, no assists, and only 18 shots on goal in 16 games.  He's a -11.  To put in perspective how unproductive Pyatt has been this season, here's a list of the four least productive players who have played at least 350 total minutes over at least 35 games (an average of 10+ minutes/night).



I'm not even sure John McCarthy is a real person -- he sounds like a U.S. Senator from the 1950's -- and Rinaldo and Konopka are two of the worst players in the NHL.  Yet they're Pyatt's peers this season.

Sadder still is that Pyatt's failure to produce is not that surprising.  Last year he had only 11 points in 48 games despite playing over 13 minutes per game.  He's also 32 years old, 230 pounds, on his 6th different team, and he's played over 840 career games.  It's not exactly the profile of a guy with a lot left in the tank.  Since the beginning of the 2012-13 season, of all the players who have played at least 85 games and 850 total minutes, here are the 11 guys with the fewest points. 

Tanner and Craig sighting.
Obviously the Pens were hurting for bodies in early January, but is this really the best Shero could have done?  A 32 year old with a $1.5M cap hit and Zenon Konopka numbers?  A guy who doesn't appear to have any particular skill set, let alone one that could emerge with similarly untalented linemates?  Did Shero claim him just because he's big?

The truth is, when you look at the big picture of how the Pens have tried to assemble a bottom 6 this year, a very unflattering light shines right back on Shero.  Knowing that the cap was falling this year, he spent his money on Pascal Dupuis, Craig Adams, and Rob Scuderi.  Individually, and at the time, each move was arguably defensible, even though Adams and Scuderi made the Pens older and slower.  He also re-signed Malkin and Letang to extensions that kick in after this season rather than moving either guy for a stockpile of assets, meaning that the roster was left with a few really good (and really expensive) players but, almost literally, no one else.

That strategy is risky but workable if you can strike gold on a few of the league minimum types that you have to bring in to fill out the roster, or get contributions from your own guys on entry-level contracts.  And this is where Shero has laid the biggest egg of his career.

Of the 18 different players who have suited up at one time or another as part of the Pens' bottom six, none of them have been good.  In fact, they've been the opposite -- a rotating cast of liabilities.

Brandon Sutter
Joe Vitale
Tanner Glass
Deryk Engelland
Brian Gibbons
Craig Adams
Jayson Megna
Chris Conner
Beau Bennett
Harry Zolnierczyk
Taylor Pyatt
Chuck Kobasew
Andrew Ebbett
Matt D'Agostini
Dustin Jeffrey
Zach Sill
Nick Drazenovic
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond

In the prime of Crosby's and Malkin's career, Shero is batting 0-for-18 when it comes to rounding out a roster than can at least hold the fort while those guys do what they do.  Maybe you can make a case that some of these guys belong or that we just have to be patient with some others.  Fair enough.  But the case for Taylor Pyatt?  We'd love to hear it.