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As Shero Wheels and Deals, It Still Boils Down to Crosby

Kovy’s back.

Remember him?  The guy with the back-to-back hat tricks.  The guy who moonwalked after his goals.

But as Penguins’ GM Ray Shero continues his wizardry, the Pens’ roster has one huge asterisk, one that will determine the overall success of the team this season.

That asterisk is next to Sidney Crosby’s name.

How’s that for an obvious statement?

Shero has yet again done a fabulous job (and he’s probably not done either) in obtaining James Neal and Alexei Kovalev for some offensive help.  Despite the multitude of injuries, the Penguins’ playoff berth is not in any danger to be lost.  So it remains to be seen just how far the Penguins could possibly go with the roster in its current shape.

Barring any more significant injuries, all of the Pens that are currently out of the lineup, including Mike Comrie and excluding Evgeni Malkin and having “The Asterisk” in limbo, are expected back.

So offensively-speaking, the Penguins’ lineup at that time would be quite decent.  Not over-powering, by any stretch of the imagination.  Throwing Neal and Kovalev into the mix with any assortment of Staal, Kunitz, Kennedy, Dupuis, Talbot. Cooke, and all the rest gives them a good mixture of skill and grit.

But if the worst fears of Penguins fans happen, and Crosby doesn’t return, can the Penguins win a playoff series with that group?  Probably depends on the matchup, as well as whether Marc-Andre Fleury continues to roll, but probably the best answer is “Maybe”.  Can that group beat Washington, as the seedings look like right now?  It would require more than simply having great defense and goaltending, they’ll need some offense.  Again, “maybe”.

But throw Crosby back into that lineup, and assuming the rest of the injured players eventually come back as well (other than Malkin, of course), that changes everything.  At this point, I don’t even want to try to predict how the lines would look, but the offensive input suddenly gets a whole lot better, and a lot of those “maybe’s” turn into “probably’s”.

And let’s also throw the financial implications into the equation as well.  Each additional Penguins’ home playoff game generates somewhere around 2 million dollars (strictly a guess on my part).  So while a Penguins lineup without Crosby makes their chances of a Stanley Cup pretty dim, having a lineup that can possibly win a playoff series, and therefore getting at least another two home playoff games, is still a priority for Penguins’ management.

Now, it’s a matter of waiting to see what other magic Shero has up his sleeve before 3PM Monday.

Filed in: , | The Confluence | Permalink
  Tags: nhl-hockey, pittsburgh+penguins


Moq's avatar

Precisely. I’ve just commented something similar in the previous entry.

The addition of Neal, Kovalev, and whomever Shero might find before tuesday, helps us ensure a playoff spot. If everyone but Crosby returns, we’re still a decent team with good defence and goaltending. The offence will still be a weakness, but the additions should help in that regard. That being said, the chances of a long Cup run are slim to none.

A healthy Crosby in decent game shape changes that perspective quite a bit. He would make us a dangerous outsider instantly. If there are any doubts about his health, I’d rather see a playoff without him and hope for the best with the available roster. The perspectives for next season looks very good.

Posted by Moq from Denmark on 02/25/11 at 12:31 PM ET

Russian Rocket's avatar

If there are any doubts about his health, I’d rather see a playoff without him and hope for the best with the available roster. The perspectives for next season looks very good.

I agree with this.  If he’s not ready, don’t rush him.  Don’t let him rush himself, either.  I would rather come back twice as strong for next year, than have him risk further injury this year.

Posted by Russian Rocket on 02/25/11 at 01:08 PM ET


Yea i agree about Crosby not coming back unless he is 100% healthy… but knowing Crosby, I have a bad feeling this will not be the case.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 02/25/11 at 01:22 PM ET


Yeah I agree about Crosby not coming back unless he is 100% healthy… and knowing Crosby, I don’t have reason not to believe that will be the case.

He understands the long-term implication of his decisions. At least evidence I’ve seen point much further to that side than the come back too early side.

Posted by NathanBC on 02/25/11 at 02:11 PM ET

awould's avatar

Without Crosby, that lineup isn’t scaring any of the top teams. With Crosby, different story. The fact that they’re in shape to make the playoffs despite losing Crosby and Malkin speaks well of the Pens but also says a lot about the East Conference.

Posted by awould on 02/25/11 at 02:30 PM ET

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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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