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Passionless Penguins ‘need to show some energy and enthusiasm’

Mar 26, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT

Phoenix Coyotes v Pittsburgh Penguins Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins are “troubled,” according to the Tribune-Review newspaper that covers them on a daily basis.

And following last night’s 3-2 home loss to Phoenix — which dropped the Penguins’ record to 2-4-1 in their last seven games — a couple of the team’s veterans insinuated the same thing.

“The biggest thing for us is that we lack a little bit of passion right now,” defenseman Rob Suderi said.

“The guys in here need to show some energy and enthusiasm,” added d-man Matt Niskanen.

Now, it’s entirely possible that the Penguins are simply lacking motivation. With 10 games left in their regular season, it’s a near certainty they’ll finish first in the Metropolitan and with the second seed in the East. Realistically, they’re too far ahead in the division to drop, and they’re too far behind Boston to get the top seed in the conference.

The Penguins are also missing a number of key players due to various ailments:


That being said, the Pens may be wise to find their “passion” or “energy” or “enthusiasm” or whatever it is they need to find, and find it soon. Because there’s a sense that changes could be coming if this team doesn’t have a successful playoff run.

For example, coach Dan Bylsma’s name is out there as a potential casualty.

And, of course, all eyes will be on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury — with just one more year on his contract — to see how he handles the pressure after four consecutive postseasons of below-average play:


Even Sidney Crosby — far and away the favorite to win the Hart Trophy, as well as the Art Ross– has a lot to prove after getting completely shut down by the Bruins last year, not to mention the year before when he lost his composure in a first-round loss to the Flyers. (Not that Crosby’s going anywhere if he doesn’t have a good playoffs.)

On a side note, there are those who believe the Pens have never been the same since Jordan Staal was traded to Carolina. And given Pittsburgh’s reported interest in acquiring Ryan Kesler at the deadline, perhaps general manager Ray Shero feels that himself. After all, we all know the high correlation between winning the Stanley Cup and having a Selke Trophy-caliber forward on the roster. And last we checked, there was no Selke buzz for Brandon Sutter.

Pittsburgh hosts Los Angeles Thursday.

  1. khar9 - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    Like disco in the 70’s , Dan’s era is over

    • joey4id - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:17 PM

      I don’t quite understand why he even got a chance to coach another year after losing to Boston last year.

      • hockey412 - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:23 PM

        Completely opinion here, but I really believe it’s because he hasn’t “lost the room”…they still play his system, and like the guy, genuinely. BUT, he’s lost the room in the sense that they don’t see him as a threat, more like a buddy. The lack of discipline is related to that.

      • c9castine - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:28 PM

        hockey412 is on to something.

        he has to find a little bit of his inner Therrien and buckle down on the discipline.

        im 100% against blowing up a team because you dont win the stanley cup though. like i have said before, vancouver is exhibit A as to why you dont do that.

      • bildomatic - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:59 AM

        It is extremely strange to me that after back to back cup appearances and a cup title that Sid, Geno, Disco & Co. haven’t been back since. When they played the Wings they were a young team that looked to threaten year after year, but for some reason they haven’t been able to get back and Flower has completely wilted in the postseason. When they played Boston last year I was buckled in for a 7 game war, but it seemed like the Pens didn’t have the same fire Boston had and ultimately got swept. I lived in Pitt during the 06-07 season and it’s hard to believe that a team with Sid and Geno only has 1 cup in their career thus far…

  2. m1k3g - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    Anyone who think the Pens’ struggles have anything to do with Staal hasn’t watched many Pens games in the past 5 years.

    For one thing, the Pens’ lack of results in the playoffs predates Staal’s departure.

    And sorry, but if you ask me, a $6M/yr guy should be contributing more on the score sheet than what Staal has historically. And before you start beating the ‘PK’ drum, save it. There are lots of guys that are great on the PK and don’t require that much cap space.

  3. hockey412 - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    Lots of excuses kind of buried in this one, but none of them are all that great. The title explains it perfectly. The are playing, in a way, like the Flyers did at the beginning of the year. They better suck it up and start playing like the Flyers are now (I know it’s taboo to bring the F word into it, but it’s the truth). This is for the most part the same team that was winning all year, aside from the Malkin injury.

    They go through this every year, but it’s time to figure it out. Skate harder, shoot harder, skate harder shoot more often, skate harder, hit harder, and for the love of gad…skate harder.

    • steelpenbucs87 - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:38 PM

      Completely agree with this – teams go through slumps like this, but they better snap out of it quick. The Flyers had an entire season to get out of their funk, whereas the Pens have about three weeks.

    • yougotgirouxed - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      how about you both get off our pipe. Every Pens article doesn’t require you bring the Flyers into up. You guys have a serious complex about us.

      • hockey412 - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:32 PM

        ‘Our’ pipe? You’re a flyer?

        This wasn’t a derogatory remark, there is just a correlation there. Taking offense to that comment is a little childish.

        Believe me, the comment had nothing to do with you.

      • yougotgirouxed - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:03 PM

        Good one

      • steelpenbucs87 - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:35 PM

        Hahaha oh man – the irony that you want people to get off the Flyers’ pipe yet you clicked on an article that was entirely about the Penguins is staggering.

      • c9castine - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:32 PM

        why are you even here?

        not a fan of the word, but i do believe this is the definiton of “trolling”

        every pens article doesnt require you to insert your irrelevant 2 cents.

  4. JoeAvg - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    I was never one to criticize much any coach or GM. There’s s reason I don’t do what they do – they know far more that I. But I have to recall an interview with Bylsma after the cup victory and he was talking about how he really didn’t have time to instill his system onto the team and that they were, for the most part, still playing Therrien’s with a few adjustments. He followed by saying something to the effect that now we’ll see Bylsma hockey. Well I’ve seen it and I’m not overwhelmed.

    I was hoping the addition of Martin to the coaching staff would result in a more responsible style but that hasn’t been the case. I realize you have to let your talent shine but I have to shake my head every time I see them make a blind cross ice pass late in a low scoring game. Or one of the stars sitting in the box late in a game they’re down by a goal because he retaliated for a slash instead of letting it go until another day. I could keep typing a list for 20 minutes.

    I’m sure Bylsma’s none too pleased about these things either but my point is it’s never been corrected. When I see them now all I see is a team with a lot of bad habits that is doomed for an early exit. This team needs to find some inspiration/motivation…and soon. If that means replacing the coach – now – I’m all for it.

    • steelpenbucs87 - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:40 PM

      Well one thing to be cognizant of is that the Pens (at the beginning of the year with a full complement of defensemen) WERE playing a more responsible style of hockey and were playing a solid defensive game. After the injury parade began on the back line they started to get away from that and they never recovered. I still think that with Martin and Letang back, along side Orpik and Scuds respectively, allows each defensive pairing to be much stronger. Orpik and Scuds were parked in front of the crease while Letang and Martin patrolled more.

      As far as Bylsma is concerned…. I don’t know what to think anymore. His system is a complex one that is built on precision and timing. When it’s humming, its extraordinarily effective (as we’ve seen in the past), but if you don’t have your head in the game, or if you’re taking stupid penalties it falls apart quickly. Hard to know whether to lay blame at the feet of the chef or his ingredients, but either way it needs to be fixed.

      • hockey412 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:33 AM

        But his system USED to be simpler. Get it deep, we’ll mess with it on their end. If we end up with it work the cycle, if not we’ll use strong play at center ice to get it deep again. I agree with what you said about the precision and timing aspect, but I think either Dan has tweeked things too much and needs to revert to a simple system OR much of the complexity that we see is actually the players not following his system.

  5. yougotgirouxed - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:58 PM

    Slumping just at the right time…

    • drewsylvania - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:47 PM

      There’s no “wrong” time for the Pens to be slumping.

  6. slaugin - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    Could be worse, they could be peaking.

    • sabatimus - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:05 PM

      Too soon, right? ;p

  7. killerpgh - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:18 PM

    Why is Bylsma’s job in jeopardy yet Babcock is being talked about as a potential Jack Adams winner because of what he has down with injuries this year. As of yesterday the Penguins have lost 439 man games to injury and will most likely win their division and finish 2nd in the conference. Detroit has lost 351 man games and is fighting for a wild card. Neither teams has been back the the Finals since back to back appearances in 08-09. Both teams have won just 3 playoff series since then as well. Just seems kind of odd.

    • c9castine - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:35 PM

      because sidney crosby players here and Pittsburgh is one of the biggest and most visible markets in the league. Detroit is no small potatoes but…I know a lot of people will scoff at this but its the truth, I have seen it develop and ramp up for the last 9 years with my own two eyes.

    • hockey412 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:45 AM

      Maybe – but remember Dan won the Jack Adams also, in the year that pretty much all the stars were hurt and they still made it to the playoffs.

      • slaugin - Mar 27, 2014 at 2:36 PM

        Bylsma would have been fired last year if he wasn’t the head coach of Team USA with Shero, IMO.

  8. muckleflugga - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    none of it matters … game two first round is where seasons pivot

    it is not out of the realm of possibility the penguins are pulling the classic sandbag

    hooooooooooooo t hooooooooooooo hack haaa ck cough wow talk about harsh

    penguins have potential to sweep every series

    honey … get me the visine and top this one up you saxxy thang … what … don’t you be like that now … it’s unladylike

    why you vixen

    • c9castine - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:38 PM

      holy jumpin. agreed.

      most of the things said in this article about the penguins PLAY is true.

      absolutely none of it matters. 2nd seed is locked up.

      well talk when the playoffs get going

      and i dont think this just goes for the pens this goes for everybody. whoever is playing bad or good right now doesnt make a bit of a difference all you have to do is get there.

  9. joewilliesshnoz - Mar 26, 2014 at 7:48 PM

    This bum, shoulda been fired after the Bruins series, except that his buddy Shero had him already lined-up as U.S.A. Head coach, and you all saw how that turned out.

    • c9castine - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:40 PM

      id pay money to see you call dan bylsma a bum to his face.

      long time NHL player, stanley cup winning head coach, olympic coach, one of the higher paid coaches in the NHL…

      and you think hes a bum.

    • hockey412 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      Poile made him the USA head coach, right?

  10. letsgopens8771 - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    Bylsma’s failure to adjust in the Playoffs has been killing us. The best players in the world can certainly pull it off with the right coaching. I usually don’t see the Pens make the same mistake twice, but at this rate, they would get bossed around by Boston and lesser teams like Philly AGAIN. Could they beat a team like Montreal or Toronto? Easily. Because we have firepower and size advantages. But against other teams, we tend to play very lazy. On the damn Powerplay we give up odd man rushes! You think he would have learned his lesson. I bet that next playoff failure means Jacques Martin will be the head coach of Pittsburgh. I like that Shero has tried to prove that he didn’t need to make headline grabbing moves to better his team, but at this point, come on and start playing like you have what it takes and freaking adjust.

  11. kastout11 - Mar 27, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    I am a Flyers fan, but I see what all you guys are talking about. This is the worst time to slump. They cannot just flip the switch when the playoffs start and they get their injured players back. Personally, I don’t think the Penguins have much depth. They only have two lines that put the puck in the net, and aside from Martin who is hurt, Niskanen is the only quality defenseman they have.

    • c9castine - Mar 27, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      bottom six are all serviceable guys who for whatever reasons, just DO NOT put the puck in the net. you can only beat so many teams with two lines burying the puck.

      and the ones who do dont seem to get the ice time….that is certainly a bit troubling.

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