by Tony on 03/05/11 at 11:25 AM ET
It’s a calculated risk that Penguins’ GM Ray Shero and Head Coach Dan Bylsma had to know they were dealing with, and praying it never came to fruition.
They looked their roster at the end of last season, one which ended in a frustrating fashion, basically getting outworked by the Montreal Canadiens. So they did some shoring up, re-signing Matt Cooke, signing free agents Zbynek Michalek, Paul Martin and Arron Asham.
Things were good, really good. A President’s Trophy was certainly not out of the equation this season.
Hindsight is 20/20, as we all know. Still, as we embarked on this season, after the FA signings, one thing stood pretty apparent: You’ve got Sidney Crosby to score goals, you’ve got Evgeni Malkin to score goals, and then you’ve got everyone else.
But what would happen if the Dynamic Duo would ever to go down? Well, we’re now seeing it. A roster full of grinders.
Now, I’m not being hypocritical. I realize that the “Crosby + Malkin + everyone else” formula has been tremendously successful. Four straight (soon to be five) playoff appearances, two Cup Final appearances and one Stanley Cup. Ask anyone outside of Detroit if they’d accept that fate for four seasons.
So for the most part, you have to take the good with the bad. If you’re going to use that formula, you undertake the risk of the consequences when some wrenches get thrown into the equation. Those, of course, have been the major injuries to Malkin and Crosby, ones that have shut Malkin down for the year, and possibly Crosby too.
For now the Penguins were forced to play with a roster overloaded with muckers and grinders.
They may not be able to score many goals, but hey, they can cycle the shit out of the puck, ya know?
Watching it is mind-numbing sometimes. The line of Cooke, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy for example, do it very, very well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great puck possession, sure. The Penguins have the puck, and duh, their opponents can’t score when they don’t have the puck.
But for the love of cheeseburgers, can someone get the damn puck on net sometimes?
There’s one aspect of the Penguins’ cycling/grinding/mucking game that really ticks me off. There’s no initiative to attempt to get some dirty goals. It’s all about the wide-open wrister, or the quick pass for the one-timer. Countless times watching the cycling down low, someone goes to the net, but the Penguin possessing the puck rarely simply throws it to the net. Watch the Penguins’ opponents in the Pens zone, they do that all game long.
So as frustratingly watch the Penguins finish up their last 16 games before the playoffs, just remember: They’ve made their bed, now they have to lay in it.
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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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