Pens Pointers #15

Anthony DeSimone

The Pittsburgh Penguins find themselves in the eye of the storm as they prepare to face-off against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at 7 p.m.

The Penguins are in Carolina tonight and are hoping to rack up two crucial points as the push for the playoffs continues to heat up. The playoff race has become even tighter due to the recent struggles of teams that are currently in the playoffs and late surges by teams that are on the fringe.

Teams that are struggling over their last 10 games include the New York Islanders (3-4-3), the Penguins (4-4-2), the Detroit Red Wings (3-6-1), and the Boston Bruins (5-3-2). On the other hand, there are teams that have been dominating their opponents in their last 10 games.  Teams that have found the winning track include the Tampa Bay Lightning (8-1-1) and Ottawa Senators (9-1-0).

The combination of these struggling and successful teams has made every game matter as the Penguins head down the home stretch. The standings are as follows (as of 2:00 p.m. Thursday):

1st Montreal Canadiens                 100 Points

2nd New York Rangers                    99 Points

3rd Tampa Bay Lightning               99 Points

4th New York Islanders                   93 Points

5th Pittsburgh Penguins                 91 Points

6th Detroit Red Wings                     90 Points

7th Washington Capitals                88 Points

8th Ottawa Senators                        85 Points


9th Boston Bruins                                84 Points

10th Florida Panthers                       80 Points

As previously stated, the Penguins are one of the teams that are in the struggling category. There are two main reasons why the Pens have been struggling lately. The first reason is that two of their main athletes have been out with injuries. Those two players are Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist. Both Malkin and Hornqvist have been out for over a week now and it has clearly affected the Penguins play.

This leads me to my second point. Goals have become a rare occurrence for the Penguins ever since their 6-4 victory against the Edmonton Oilers. Since that game, the Penguins have only scored seven goals over the last five games. Of those five games, the Penguins have been shut out twice.

This lack of goal scoring has been a shock to the Pens fans, who have gone to social media once again to show their displeasure. However, this time I don’t blame them for being upset. The Penguins have very talented players such as Crosby, Malkin, Comeau, Hornqvist and Sutter who make great plays day in and day out. Since these athletes are all on the same team, fans are expecting the Penguins to score at least three goals or more per game.

That logic does make sense; however, two of those five play-makers are currently unable to play. Plus, fans cannot forget about the luck aspect of hockey. Let’s face it, some nights teams will score goals or make plays that dazzle their fans and other nights teams will look as if they are playing with blindfolds on and miss every pass and shot known to man.

I think the Penguins are currently in the latter category. They need to dig deep and bring their game back to the simple plays and use simple passes so they can build confidence amongst themselves and string together a few wins to help their improve their position in the playoff race.

If the Penguins are able to get Malkin and Hornqvist back, simplify their game and score a few more goals, they will be able to get out of the losing rut that they are in and prepare themselves for playoffs.