Hey Pens fans! We’re firmly situated in the meat of the season, and if you’ve been watching closely, you may have mixed feelings about the current situation of the Penguins. Watching recent games has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Most fans, myself included, aren’t sure what to expect when sitting down to watch a game. Will they get a shut out, or will they be shut out? Will they beat a top-seed team one night and choke against a basement-dwelling team the next? The season as of lately is touch and go, and the fan base isn’t sure what to make of it.
It can be frustrating to watch this team some nights. On February 6th, the Pens played a dominating game against the Calgary Flames (and former Penguin Deryk Engelland) and won 4-0. The next night, they were shut out 5-0 by the Vancouver Canucks. While I wouldn’t suggest hitting the panic button just yet, it’s understandable to look at their recent results and be utterly confused. They have the talent and the skill – but not the consistency.
With this frustration comes a need to switch up the regime. The power play is struggling, yet the two squads have seen few major changes recently in spite of this. Jason Mackey from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found that the Pens are 0-for-23 on the power play on the second of back-to-back games. The units need to be switched up, if only temporarily, to surge some new chemistry and hopefully generate some offense on what is normally a top-tier special team.
Less than one month from now will mark the NHL Trade Deadline (March 2nd, 3:00 PM EST). In my opinion, Penguins fans can expect the organization to be active leading up to this day. Rumors have swirled all season about the supposed shopping of D Paul Martin, a pending unrestricted free agent. Similarly, other players with contracts ending in 2015 – LW Zach Sill, LW Marc Arcobello, LW Blake Comeau, RW Steve Downie, G Thomas Greiss, D Robert Bortuzzo, RW Craig Adams, D Christian Ehrhoff, RW Beau Bennett, and C Maxim Lapierre – either need to be resigned or shown the door. With young talent in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and elsewhere waiting for their permanent call-ups, I think it will be safe to assume that Pittsburgh will have a younger (and cheaper) core in the coming seasons. For now, it’ll be interesting to see just how General Manager Jim Rutherford deals with the current roster.
While the Penguins have had better stretches, I don’t think it’s time to abandon all hope on them just yet. They’re more than capable of getting their game together in time for the last push before the playoffs. They’ll have to battle the New York Islanders for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, but definitely expect to see them in the Stanley Cup Playoffs come April. The only question right now is how will the team look when they get there? My estimation is that we’ll have some unfamiliar faces come March 2nd, and later, the off-season. For now, enjoy the season for what it is and look forward to the best time of the year – the Stanley Cup Playoffs!