Kukla's Korner

The Confluence

Category: Opinion

Penguins shouldn’t forget the D-men at the Deadline

Penguins’ fans are still upset at the horrendous performance in D.C. yesterday.  Gotta get over it, folks.  It’s one game.  Doesn’t matter if they lost 3-2 playing decent or 5-2 playing lousy.  They lost, it’s over.

So while the team gets a couple more good days of practice under IHCDB, let’s start looking ahead to the March 4th trade deadline.  Just giving everyone a heads up, a Trade Deadline Roundtable discussion is on it’s way, I hope to have it posted on Wednesday.

But just for a second, let’s focus on potential positions that have been discussed ad nauseum.  Of course, the “scoring winger for Crosby” has been shouted from the mountain tops since, well, since Crosby came into the league.  Outside of a couple of months last season with Hossa, he arguably hasn’t had one.

However, while that position has certainly needed to be filled for quite some time now, there’s another position that GMRS really needs to fill, and quick.

Better defensemen.

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With Letang, Bylsma already showing he’s no Therrien

Give Dan Bylsma credit, he’s not bashful to quickly put his stamp on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

When Kris Letang was announced as a healthy scratch prior to Thursday’s game vs. the Canadiens, combined with an erroneous report out of Montreal, the hockey world erupted with speculation that Letang was on his way back to his hometown, perhaps for the return of former Penguins Alex Kovalev.

But as it turns out, Letang was in the press box for precisely the reason he’s supposed to be up there:  He simply hasn’t been a very good defensemen lately, and Bylsma benched him for it.

In addition, what Bylsma may also be doing, indirectly, is wiping away Therrien’s perceived favoritism towards his French-Canadian players.  But that’s not what this is about.

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Loyal Readers of The Confluence, unite !!!! (aka, help a brotha out… )

I thought that really quickly I’d give a shoutout to Sean of Sean’s Ramblings, a fellow Pittsburgh blog.

Sean has set up a 32-team “Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament”, and has kindly not only thrown The Confluence into the mix, but has given us a #2 seed.

[  Shit, you know what that means.  Pitt gets high seeds every year, and look what happens to them !!! ]

Truthfully, I’ve never been a fan of blog contests, especially those between blogs of the same city, but I should just say that I’m flattered to be nominated in the first place.

So, my faithful readers, in between your scouring of the Internets and doing the Google looking for the next Malkin to the Thrashers rumor, head on over to Sean’s Ramblings and show The Confluence some love.  Preesh.

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A breakdown of the Penguins’ remaining schedule

Penguins fans have heard the run of the cliche’s lately.  “Put a fork in ‘em”.  “They’re done”.  “Pack your bags”.  And, to give them credit, those sayings may very well be accurate if the Pens continue to play with such inconsistency.

But, if the Pens start turning the corner, if the powerplay starts to show even a pulse and they can start stringing some wins, and yes, if GMRS get the much-needed help on the wings, it’s certainly not a far-flung prediction to suggest that the Pens could be among the playoff teams come April.  [ And if my grandmother had…. ]

As of right now, the Penguins are six points out of eighth place in the East with 24 games remaining.  But that sounds a little more daunting than it really is, so let’s look at this like it’s a baseball pennant race, rather than hockey, just for a second.  As long as no one tries to suggest that the Pirates would be in this race, I don’t need anymore gray hair.

If you really look at it, the Pens are 3 games back with 24 games to go.  That most certainly makes the Pens’ challenge at least a little less difficult, doesn’t it ??

Hey, can’t blame a guy for trying.

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Therrien: Change was needed, but can’t hang it all on him

I’ll be the first to admit, I was not a Michel Therrien fan from early on in his tenure as head coach of the Penguins.

I was never a fan of several of his coaching methods, which I’ll get to in a minute, and I certainly believe now that he lost the team.

And now that he’s gone, I can’t honestly say I’m overjoyed, although I understand why the move needed to be done.  Quite frankly, I am more upset today that Mike Yeo is still on the coaching staff, rather than relieved that Therrien is gone.  However, I realize that in the short timespan that GMRS had to deal with in making this decision, he probably was only able to make the head coaching switch at this time.

But a change was needed to right this Penguins ship, as long as we also understand that Therrien wasn’t the only culprit that brought us to this point.

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Avery and the Penguins:  Should Shero roll the dice ??

Aaah Sean Avery.  You remember Sean, he’s the one who’s being portrayed as if he’s a cancer on the supposedly-snow white pure National Hockey League.

Sean is in Hartford now, biding his time with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate because the Stars don’t have an AHL team this year.  Speculation has been running rampant that the Rangers will re-acquire Avery on re-entry waivers, whenever that is.

That is, unless a team with a worse record than the Rangers rolls the dice and claims Avery first.  A team, like perhaps, the Pittsburgh Penguins ??

In Thursday’s Newsday, Steve Zipay stated, in reference to a possible Avery return to the Rangers, that he can’t specify when Avery could make his home debut —in fact, a team like Pittsburgh, we hear, might claim him on recall waivers.

Things that make you go hmmm, indeed.

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  Tags: new+york+rangers, nhl-hockey, pittsburgh+penguins

It’s Shero’s turn to face Penguins fans wrath

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Penguins’ disappointing season to date.

The loss of several significant players due to free agency, led by Marian Hossa, sure as hell didn’t help.

The major injury to Sergei Gonchar in the preseason certainly exacerbated the Pens’ plight.

My personal favorite, Head Coach Michel Therrien, and his trusty powerplay sidekick, Mike Yeo, are continually bashed.  [ And well deserved… ]

Now that the FIRE THERRIEN !! talk has died down to a soft roar, Penguins fans have now turned their attention to the architect of this year’s roster:  Blame it on Ray Shero.

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Crosby’s absence:  “It’s the Smart Move”

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Remember in the first Godfather, after Vito croaks in the tomato garden, and they’re at the funeral ??  Tessio comes over to Michael and proposes a meeting (where of course he would have been assassinated).  Tom Hagan leans over to Michael and says “I always thought it would be Clemenza, not Tessio”.

Michael replies, “it’s the smart move”.  Tessio thinks the Corleone family will be weaker with Vito’s death, and decides to latch on with Barzini.  Of course, Tessio would soon regret that decision, but I digress.

That leads us to modern day hockey, where Sidney Crosby had to make a controversial decision of his own recently, and I believe Michael would concur, he made the right decision, or rather, the smart move.

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Will Gonchar’s return make THAT much difference for the Penguins ??

I really try to be an objective blogger rather than merely a Penguins homer.  So in that vain, I objectively have to now ask this question.

24 hours after painfully watching the Washington Capitals run circles around the 1-2-2 trap that worked for exactly one game in Philly for the Penguins, it got me to thinking:

Let’s fast forward six weeks or so.  It’s the beginning of March, the trade deadline is near, I’m hitting F5 (refresh, for those that are ignorant of those function keys) on about six windows constantly all day long.

Mike Zigomanis, Ruslan Fedotenko and the other Penguins’ walking wounded have been back for a few weeks now.  And finally, Sergei Gonchar is ready to return.  The team is finally healthy, and not a day too soon.

But, is it going to matter as much as some might believe it will ??  Because in my mind, there are many more problems with this version of the Pittsburgh Penguins than merely the significant loss of Sergei Gonchar.

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Some Penguins stats that you might have overlooked during their freefall;  Wallace sent down

Statistics are always convenient when a team is going poorly, just as it is when it’s going good.

In reference to the Penguins’ downward spiral, a lot of the scrutiny has been focused on the poor performance of the powerplay, once considered a staple of the Penguins’ offense.  In addition, the influx of injuries, simply cannot be overlooked, despite attempts to downplay them (which I’m guilty of).

But there are some other statistics that are sometimes brought up, but not nearly as much as they should, in my view anyway.

So let’s take a look….

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About The Confluence

Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.

Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.

I am blogger- credentialed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  My posts are regularly linked by hockey websites such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Yahoo!‘s Puck Daddy, and I’ve done numerous guest blogger spots on such websites asthe New YorkTimes.  I am a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer.

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