Weekly Rant: Give thanks to a struggling division

My Rant
My Rant

I’m tired of searching for a glimmer of hope.  This needs to stop.

The coaches, players and fans know what is wrong but no one can stop it, which brings to mind the question: why?

The Penguins need to stay out of the box and capitalize on the power play … they’re not doing it.  Think if the Pens got an early power play goal to start the scoring against Florida.  It would have totally changed the complexion of the game.  And if they could have notched a pp goal at Boston, they would have earned at least a point.

If Pittsburgh could have beaten Toronto, Tampa Bay and Florida it would be six points richer and sit two points behind Philadelphia for first place in the Atlantic Division.  And the thing is, every other team in the Atlantic is struggling as well.  No one can break away and declare themselves ‘king.’

If you look at the other two divisions in the Eastern Conference, Boston leads the Northeast Division and Washington leads the Southeast Division.  Both have double digit leads in points — Boston leads by 14 and Washington leads by 10.

In the Western Conference, Detroit leads the Central Division by 10 points and San Jose leads the Pacific Division by 20 points.  In most divisions throughout the NHL it is clear on who will likely come away with the regular season title.  There is no such distinction in the Atlantic.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin, left, of Russia, and Sidney Crosby, right, watch the final seconds of a 6-1 loss to the Florida Panthers in front of Penguins coach Michel Therrien, left rear, during a NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin, left, of Russia, and Sidney Crosby, right, watch the final seconds of a 6-1 loss to the Florida Panthers in front of Penguins coach Michel Therrien, left rear, during a NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Amidst a 5-10-1 streak, the Penguins are just eight points out of first place in the division.  This is absurd and it is because the rest of the Atlantic is in a downslide as well.

New Jersey is the best in the past 10 games, going 6-3-1.  The division-leading Philadelphia Flyers are 5-3-2 in their last 10 and lead the second placed New York Rangers by 0ne point, a team that is 5-4-1 in its last 10.  The Rangers surrendered the lead to Philadelphia just recently due to losses in four of their last five games.

And you can probably pin the fate of the division on the power play since, just like the Penguins, the leaders can’t seem to execute.  Philly is has only scored on one of its last 15 power play chances.  That matches up well with a 1-17 mark for the Rangers and 2-22 mark for New Jersey.  All this while the Pens have been blanked with the man-advantage on the last 24 chances.

What started the season looking like the strongest division in the East, and maybe the NHL, has turned in to the Southeast Division of last year.  Now, that may not be fair to state because the widespread talent and competition among the top four teams.  But nevertheless, the Flyers’ 50 points is tied with Calgary for the lowest point total to lead a division.

Pens fans, thank your lucky stars.  It’s not often that a team can survive a streak such as the one the Penguins are on and still be within shouting distance of the division leader.

After losing to Florida on Saturday, I don’t want to think positive.  However, every time I look to the scoreboard our division foes are giving us help.  It is time for this to turn around.  It is time for this team to show it can execute and be the talented group we all know it is.

I think that if they can do it soon, I think I’ll be writing a far different Rant at the beginning of February.

Chris | PPT

“Avenge 6-4-08”

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2 thoughts on “Weekly Rant: Give thanks to a struggling division

  1. Chris,

    You omitted “Coaching” as an answer to your poll “What is the Penguins biggest problem right now?”

    Whether we’re talking about lack of motivation or player alienation, it all falls back in Therrien’s lap.

    The PP is attrocious because Yeo only knows one way to get it done, and as you know the rest of the league knows it too.

    It’s time for a change. We need to clean house!

  2. christophergates

    Well you’re right about that I didn’t include coaching. But I’m curious, do you lay more blame on Therrien or Yeo? In my eyes, this seems to be a very similar team to last year’s with less player chemistry. If that’s the case shouldn’t the players be to blame? It’s the same system that got them to the Finals last year so something makes me want to blame the players more than coaching … right now.

    If it continues too much longer some sort of change will have to be made, whether it’s with players or coaches. That’s for sure.

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