Jim Rutherford knows Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can’t do it all. In fact, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ GM has talked openly about his team needing to “win games with our third and fourth lines,” should the two superstars get shut down.
Unfortunately for Rutherford, his third and fourth lines — dramatically altered since last season — aren’t delivering. Beau Bennett has just three goals in 46 games; Maxim Lapierre has no goals in 32; Craig Adams has one in 68; and it’s not like Daniel Winnik and Nick Spaling are lighting it up either.
Thank goodness for Brandon Sutter and his respectable 19 goals. He was the only to score Sunday versus Philly.
Meanwhile, Steve Downie’s 14 goals aren’t bad. If only he could stop taking so many penalties.
This is not news to Penguins fans. Forward depth was an issue that needed fixing after last season. It was an unknown heading into this one.
“That’s what teams try to do to us,” Rutherford said in February. “They try to shut [Crosby and Malkin] down. If they shut those guys down, and you don’t have enough balance on your third and fourth line where you can score periodically, then you can’t win.”
The Penguins head into tonight’s suddenly huge game versus the Senators with just three wins in their last 12. Of the 19 goals they’ve managed during that stretch, Crosby has either scored or assisted on 11 of them. It’s time for some of his teammates to help out.