by Tony on 02/09/11 at 11:30 PM ET
What an absolutely ducky 2011 it’s been for your Pittsburgh Penguins so far, eh?
Before I start bloviating, allow me to apologize for my lack of very many opinion-related articles over the past couple of months. Admittedly, I’m in the midst of my worst writer’s slump in nearly five years of blogging. I’m fighting through it, and I thank Paul for being patient while I get my second wind. Combine that with being busy at my real job (yes, I have one), and just recently with preparing to fly to Connecticut to pick up a Camaro I’m buying, I just haven’t expended the energy that I used to when preparing a good opinion article. So, thanks.
But anyway, there’s certainly some hot-button topics to discuss, so let’s get started:
- So Evgeni Malkin will have surgery tomorrow on his right knee, and should be back in time for training camp next season. Will he be back and better than ever? At this point, who the hell knows with Geno. He really hasn’t been the Geno that we’ve known for a season and a half now. Is that entirely attributed to nagging injuries? Perhaps. But it’s pretty evident to me that the Penguins are going to have to somehow find a “sidekick” for Malkin, somebody who generates chemistry between the two, like Petr Sykora did. That may very well be Jordan Staal, unfortunately they didn’t have much time to test that combination out. But it’s pretty clear that a line consisting of Malkin plus two grinders is not going to cut it.
- Obviously, Sidney Crosby’s continued absence, as well as a lack of any timetable towards his return, creates huge question marks for the Penguins, especially considering we’re now 19 days from the NHL trade deadline. For instance, if the worst-case scenario becomes reality, and Crosby is shut down for the year (and there’s absolutely no indication that is the case, by the way), does GMRS even make the attempt to make a Cup run, realistically? Assuming that’s not the case, GMRS will have much more payroll to spend than he did prior to Malkin’s injury, but it’s not like he can bet the farm on the best forward available. Assuming Malkin is back when next season starts, naturally that means his salary is back on the books, and barring a major shakeup with the remainder of his pending free agents, he’ll be cash-strapped once again.
- Speaking of the trade deadline, the “insider” rumor mongers have once again come out of the woodwork. And the thing is, if you ask me, with the advent of Twitter, Dwayne (Eklund) isn’t close to being the only player on the hockey rumor food chain nowadays. But the best part is not just reading some of the ridiculous “rumors”, but now reading the responses from the agents, such as Allan Walsh, who regularly blasts the rumor mongers.
- I suppose I have to talk about Matt Cooke now. Not going to defend his latest action on Tyutin last night at all. I have no objection to those who call Cooke a dirty player, hell, I said as much last year. Although I disagree with Colin Campbell’s statement that Cooke “delivered a forceful hit from behind on an unsuspecting opponent” (my contention is that Tyutin saw Cooke coming easily two seconds beforehand), it’s still no excuse for delivering a hit from behind like that. Now having said that, I’m giving Cooke more leeway on the knee-to-knee hit on Alex Ovechkin. Not only did Cooke’s hit come as a result of Ovechkin moving to his side to escape the hit, let’s just file this one under the “payback’s a bitch” category. Penguins fans still clearly remember the knee-on-knee hit that Ovechkin put on Sergei Gonchar in the ‘09 playoffs that tore Gonchar’s MCL. Don’t agree? Whatever.
- Eric Tangradi and Tim Wallace were sent back down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton today. There are reports via Twitter that Joe Vitale has just been called up. With so many injuries and/or suspensions nowadays, GMRS and HCDB may be taking this opportunity to get some on the youngsters a taste of the NHL. As for Tangradi, it’s disappointing that it doesn’t look like he’s gonna be a regular roster player anytime soon. True, he’s only 21, but he’s not quick enough and not very physical for his size. And I’m sure HCDB notices that, hence his demotion, especially considering the roster spots open right now.
- Unfortunately it looks like we’re gonna have to get used to this sporadic scoring with the big boys out of the lineup. The vast majority of the remaining roster simply aren’t players that will score on a regular basis. Give them a helluva lot of credit for winning as many games as they have without Crosby and now Malkin, but with the Penguins going on a couple of different road trips, this could be a rough stretch.
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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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