by Tony on 03/03/13 at 11:39 AM ET
In the aftermath of the Penguins' exhausting 7-6 overtime victory over Montreal Saturday night, one thing is becoming pretty damn clear:
Crash the net on the Penguins' defensive corps, and you've got one helluva chance to score.
Not only will the Penguins' D-men not put up much of an effort to stop you from getting near their goal, they're not going to do very much to clear you away from the goal once you get there.
That may very well be an exaggeration, granted, but generally speaking it's not an outlandish statement to make either.
And as we today hit the T-minus one month mark of the NHL Trade Deadline, it would behoove Penguins' GM Ray Shero to be on the lookout in the coming weeks for defensemen that can actually play defense.
That is, if he wants the Penguins to be the Stanley Cup contender that many have proclaimed his team to be. 'Cause without better defensive play, that dog ain't huntin'.
Puck-moving defensemen have never been an issue in the Shero/Dan Bylsma regime in Pittsburgh. Players like Ryan Whitney, Alex Goligoski and Kris Letang were/are most definitely slanted towards the offensive aspect of their postiion. For all of his offensive prowess, where people have started to throw his name into Norris Trophy consideration, Letang has had some flashes of good defensive play, but there have been just as many serious defensive lapses as well.
Perhaps Letang's woes on defense wouldn't be as magnified if it were not for similar type breakdowns from his line partner and defensive elder Brooks Orpik, who has not had a good year at all on the blue line. While the 32 year-old Orpik is well-known for his physical play, his defensive positioning has definitely gone down a couple of rungs on the D-man ladder in the last couple of years.
While defensemen like Paul Martin and Matt Niskanen have been pleasant surprises, youngsters like Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo show plenty of potential and the recent re-addition of Mark Eaton will hopefully provide some stability as well, overall this defensive corps clearly needs help. While the Penguins have the offensive firepower to compete against anyone in the league, it simply most likely cannot survive in a playoff atmosphere with the porous defense they currently employ.
So while fans and media have fixated their attention on GMRS to find another top-6 winger (yours truly included), it's clear at least to this schmuck that the top priority is pretty obvious now:
Getting a top defenseman that can actually play defense.
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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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