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Crosby, Penguins aren’t panicking over mediocre start

Jan 31, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on January 19, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(January 18, 2013 - Source: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost three of their last four games, haven’t won at home, and are off to an uninspiring 3-3-0 start.

Maybe you’d expect more from the odds-on favorites to win the Stanley Cup, but the sample size still is small and the Penguins certainly don’t seem to be too worried, based on a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report.

“It’s all right,” forward Evgeni Malkin. “Yeah, we lost our last game. Still positive, looking forward. Nothing bad. We’ve just played six games. Just keep going.”

Part of the problem so far has been turnovers and recently a lack of offensive output. The Penguins are known for their core of top-end skilled forwards, but they have managed just seven goals over their last four contests.

“I don’t think a little adversity this time of year is the end of the world,” Sidney Crosby argued.

Maybe not, in 1995 the New Jersey Devils won the Stanley Cup after starting that shortened season with a 2-3-1 record.

All the same, Pittsburgh has a big test ahead of them based on its upcoming schedule. The Penguins will play against the New York Rangers and Islanders once, the New Jersey Devils three times, and the Washington Capitals twice through Feb. 10.

  1. girouxvy - Jan 31, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    Weren’t the Pens the odds on favorite last season too? Hhmmm…..

    • hockeywithdrawal - Jan 31, 2013 at 9:13 AM

      Not sure I’d be chirping up, ’til Giroux is out of the cellar.

      • girouxvy - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:09 AM

        I didn’t chirp THAT much….. Geeze.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 31, 2013 at 11:00 AM

        Maybe he’s not in the best postion to say it but he speaks the truth.

  2. hockeywithdrawal - Jan 31, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    They’re one game out of a tie for first (NJD with a game in hand), just like pretty much everyone else in the Division. It’s not time to panic, just time to fix the problem. Don’t change the plan, just execute it better. Shoot the puck.

    Please…for the love of all that is good and holy….shoot the puck.

    • hockeywithdrawal - Jan 31, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      It also looks like they’re giving Dustin Jeffrey a chance on the Malkin line – at least that’s where he practiced Wednesday…that’s eff’in awesome – it was a good fit.

  3. steelpenbucs87 - Jan 31, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    They shouldn’t be “panicked” but I also hope they aren’t being complacent either. While the team has the core talent to make a run at a cup, they need to continue to play with the hunger and passion of a team that needs to fight and claw for every point.

    Going 1-14 on the PP is unacceptable and I was happy to hear all of the beat writers reporting that Neal was being moved off the point (which wasn’t a good idea) and putting Malkin up there instead. He’s proved in the pass that he can take those shots as well as dish from that position.

    Finally I’m encouraged by some of the play of Dustin Jeffrey on the Second line with Malkin and Neal. That could work really well for the rest of the year. Still think we need to add a D-Man at the deadline but this team is still a contender, for now.

  4. davebabychreturns - Jan 31, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    No reason to panic. In the last shortened season the Devils started 9-11-4 and only finished 5th in the East but still went on to sweep the Wings in the finals.

    You just have to be good enough over 48 games to get in and to get yourself in a position to be rolling by the start of the playoffs.

  5. benzoids - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    I called this from the start. No reason these guys should have been the cup favorite. They were exposed against Philly in the playoffs and they didn’t address it in the offseason. Major shakeup is needed with theses guys. Bylsma should be on edge.

    • hockeywithdrawal - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:13 AM

      What was exposed in the playoffs was a lack of the ability to stay focused and disciplined when playing a team that is known for dirty play. I haven’t seen a lack of discipline this year, especially from Sid (I actually think he could stand to show a little more emotion, but he’ll find his middle ground).

      I’m not sure what else to say about your comment because it’s extremely vague, they brought in Vokoun, made changes on Defense, etc. What is “it” that they didn’t address?

      • phillyphanatic77 - Jan 31, 2013 at 2:03 PM

        Seriously you’re gonna go back to the dirty play crap? When will Pens fans ever look in the mirror and realize their team is not made up of saints and choir boys? Your team was the dirty one in that series,hands down. No question about it. Any impartial source will confirm that, and plenty have. Have there been dirty Flyer teams? Yes (mostly in the 70s), but last years team was not one of them. There’s nothing to argue about this season because both clubs have been subpar (Flyers worse) but I will disagree when you’re not cognizant of reality. You’re a homer with no ability to look at anything without a Pittsburgh slant. The Penguins lost their composure because they were losing and lashed out. That’s reality. It wasn’t them over-reacting to dirty play from the Flyers. The Pens aren’t perfect, get over it.

      • hockeywithdrawal - Jan 31, 2013 at 3:11 PM

        1) You are correct in that the Pens lost their composure, and that the team isn’t made up of choir boys. Never said that – and in last year’s play-offs they completely lost their cool. That’s last year, and I wasn’t talking about that.

        2) Pens fans are not the only ones that specifically feel the Flyers are cheap shot artists and try to get under the other teams’ skin by dirty play.

        3) So far this year, the Flyers have more penalty’s (minors and total) than anyone in the league…at 52. The Pens are 4th lowest, at 28.

  6. ironcity6pak - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Pens are in a lot of trouble. If Shero and Dan don’t get their heads out of their @$$ they will be looking for a new job.

    • steelpenbucs87 - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:32 AM

      This is the typical over-reactionary response that gets people lined up to jump off the Veterans’ Bridge every time the Pens drop a couple of games.

      You want to fire Dan Bylsma – the Stanley Cup winning and Jack Adams winning coach – 6 games into an abbreviated season? Yes the team has made mental mistakes against some teams that on paper they should have beat, but they also have wins AT Philly, New York and Ottawa.

      And Shero too huh? The guy who was able to bring back a 40 goal scorer and a top 4 Dman for one borderline top 4 Dman? The same guy who was able to pull a true 3rd line center, the 8th overall pick and a SOLID defensive prospect for a (albeit very talented) center who had no intention of staying with the team beyond this year?

      As I said in my post above – there are problems that need to be fixed, but the idea that the answer to is to can Bylsma and Shero is absolutely absurd.

      • killerpgh - Jan 31, 2013 at 11:58 AM

        I can kind of understand Bylsma being in the hot sit, but not Shero. The Jack Adams and Cup are nice, but they are in the past. I wouldn’t get rid of him yet, but IF this play keeps up around 15 games into the season a chage would be needed, imo. It’s getting to the point were the players are either tuning him out or he is letting them do whatever they want. He is a players coach so its probably somewhere in between. The only players he holds accountable are the younger boarder line player like Tangradi/Jeffery/Despres. If they make a mistake the get bench and sit the next game. Seems like every other player is free to do what they want with no accountability. This is going back to about 2 week before the playoffs started last year. I like Bylsma. But once the players start tuning you out as a coach it’s extremely hard to get control again and it’s easier to replace the coach then it is the team.

      • ferrantej - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:19 PM

        We have a coach whose idea of personnel management is to take last year’s league leader in power play goals and change his position on the power play, who takes Kunitz off of what was the best line in hockey last year, who sat there and watched the penalty killing get TORCHED in the Flyers series and not make one adjustment, and who wants Letang to not only quarterback the power play, but also bring the puck up on the power play, kill penalties, play 25 minutes a night, drive the team bus, cure cancer and bring peace to the Middle East. Just how many Letangs does he plan on dressing?

        Keep in mind that the year the Pens won the Cup they still had remnants of Therrien’s defensive system ingrained in them. Since then, they’ve underachieved and lost to lower seeded teams 3 straight years in the playoffs (although they get a pass on the Tampa Bay series since Crosby and Malkin were both hurt).

      • steelpenbucs87 - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:57 PM

        Ferrantej – Well in case you hadn’t noticed they are making the adjustment on the powerplay – Neal is off the point and they’re putting Malkin back up there – he’s been there before and has succeeded there.

        As for the overuse of Kris Letang – a) its pretty common to have him bring the puck up on the powerplay, b) I wouldn’t say he quarterbacks the powerplay – he is on the point but the powerplay operates primarily out of the half-wall, and most importantly, Kris Letang hasn’t exactly been the issue on this team. He’s playing well this season.

        As for the PK – its actually been a lot better than you probably realized. If you take out the 5-3 garbage time goal against Toronto they’re a top 10 unit in the league (I was shocked too).

        Cool your jets here fellas – you don’t fire him 6 games into an abbreviated season in which he had no training camp and no preseason to get things sorted out. Crosby being at full strength, Staal gone, Sutter and Glass in – this is a different unit that takes some sorting out. Need some time to get things together.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Jan 31, 2013 at 2:13 PM

        It would be absurd to remove a coach with Bylsma’s resume and a GM of Sheros caliber over a .500 start. Sure the Pens haven’t beaten some teams they probably should have, but that’s life in the NHL. Even the Oilers Dynasty never went 82-0. You’re gonna lose some. Especially in a year when the players had a week to go from meetings to playing full speed on the ice. No Preseason games and a compressed schedule means clubs are figuring things out on the fly. Plus there’s very limited practice time. If the Pens are still hugging .500 a month from now then maybe you consider some moves. But right now they have talent, everyone just needs to get on the same page. And that’s the issue with most teams across the league.

  7. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    Not sure why the Caps are included in the “tough road ahead” blurb.

  8. spydey629 - Jan 31, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    They took care of Problem #1 be re-shuffling the Power Play. That set-up was awkward from the word go.

    The other thing they need to get over is themselves. I’ve screamed myself hoarse yellnig at my TV telling them to dump the puck into the zone. Teams have been putting up a picket fence in front of them on the blue line ever since the trip to Winnipeg (3 games ago), Sid and the boys have been acting like they’re “too good” to do that, and are trying to skate thru the wall every time.

    The one other thing I would do is let Geno on the bench for an extended period of time. Malkin continues to make dumb, unexplainable turnovers, game-in, game-out. He needs some sort of wake-up call. Leaving him to ride the pine for last 10 minutes of a game — regardless of the circumstances — might get the job done.

    • hockeywithdrawal - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:01 PM

      I’m not sure they want the league’s reigning MVP “riding the pine” 5 months before they try to sign him to another long term contract. I do agree on the turnovers…too much passing, and they need to simplify it – they SAY they realize it, we’ll see if that’s the case. However, when they are on, those plays work. They just aren’t there yet, they are rusty.

      They haven’t been dumping the puck because they haven’t had any luck retrieving it. They wanted Kunitz on Crosby’s line to do just that, and he hasn’t done great, but not bad. They’ve tried several people. I do agree that they should still dump and chase, but I think they’ve been hesitant to do so.

      I agree completely on the Power Play. Hopefully this fixes it. But I don’t think it will, unless they shoot.

      • spydey629 - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:34 PM

        I don’t know what else would get through to him other than benching him, MVP or not. I’m sure Coach Disco has other ideas, and that’s why he gets paid a lot more than I do.

        I just want them — as a whole — to get their heads out of their keisters. They’re losing to all the bad teams and beating all the good ones. I really don’t want to have to suffer through the 48 game version of the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers.

  9. broadstbully33 - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    The only dirty team in tht series was the pens… Or did you not watch. Pit was trying to get Philly to play dirty to try and make them look better but it didn’t work. Ask Mario

    • sportsfreak13 - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      You should wait until your team isn’t doing do bad to troll.

    • sportsfreak13 - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:21 PM


    • hockeywithdrawal - Jan 31, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      Pens played tough and prepared for a bloodbath…the Flyers are a dirty team, who came up with the plan that instead of continuing in the playoffs, they’d dive every time we touched them. Interesting tactic…and it worked. Got under the Pens skin, that’s for sure. It worked only that time. Now, enough about last year’s playoffs.

  10. malkinrulez - Jan 31, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Sit Malkin , ur kidding right? All those turnovers u complain about are the highlight plays people rave about when they connect. Also geno leads the team in takeaways. All agree he hasn’t had a great start but most nights his line is the best

  11. phillyphannn83 - Jan 31, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    Yeah cause there absolutely no bias for the Pens amongst NHL refs.

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