by Tony on 02/25/11 at 11:11 AM ET
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.
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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.
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