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.