27 games into the regular season and the Penguins sit at 18-6-3 and are at the top of the Metropolitan Division on 39 points. It’s been a solid start to the season and the Penguins look to be on course for another playoff stint. Here is Pens fan Gary Beeson with a little update on how the season has been going so far…
Following the end of the Shero-Bylsma era the Penguins looked to rebuild their coaching staff after crashing out in the playoffs after yet another promising regular season. The Penguins turned to Jim Rutherford as their new General Manager, who then hired Mike Johnston as the team’s new head coach. If I am honest, I am liking the new set up.
I loved Bylsma and Shero for what they had done with the team but it was clear something was amiss after several rather disappointing playoff campaigns. Perhaps Mario felt they had taken the team as far as they could and the organisation was just looking for a fresh start in the locker room. So far, so good. We are still playing very exciting hockey, and we are undoubtedly one of the most entertaining teams in the league.
In fairness, I do not think too many coaches would struggle getting the Pens playing entertaining hockey, with the likes of Geno and Sid leading the lines. However, I do have one nagging bugbear about how the season has been going so far. We have thrown away a lot of healthy leads this year. On several occasions, we have been cruising in a game and due to a lapse of concentration we let a solid lead slip and all of a sudden we are back to chasing a game.
It is not a massive problem just yet, but I would like this habit to be stamped out before it becomes a serious issue. Overall, the coaching staff has shown that they seem capable of leading the Pens to another post-season appearance.
New Signings settling in nicely
There was a lot of movement at the end of the season on the Pens roster. The Pens bid farewell to James Neal, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen and several other players. I was particularly disappointed with the James Neal trade, but I could see why we shipped ‘The Real Deal’ out of Pittsburgh. Many Pens fans, including myself, grew frustrated with Neal in the post season, when he would just give up stupid penalties at important times during the game.
Of course, there was not just outgoings. The Pens brought in Blake Comeau, Patric Hornqvist and Christian Ehrhoff. Ehrhoff took a little while to settle into the side, but, in recent games, he has been playing some decent hockey. Blake Comeau has impressed me. He has come up with some big goals already this season, and he seems to have found some nice form.
For me, the real treat this year has easily been Patric Hornqvist. He just seems like a very clever player, making wise plays and like Comeau, he has come up with some pretty big goals himself this year. He has been a solid replacement for Neal and has added a bit more bulk to the Pens roster. Hopefully Patric can bounce back quickly from this injury that currently has him absent from games. Overall, I am happy with the Pens new signings so far this season.
Injuries, Injuries and more injuries
The Pens have really struggled with injuries so far this season. It seems that any sense of ‘Line Chemistry’ has been dealt a heavy blow as every week players are moving around to accommodate for injuries. However, the Pens have still been shelling out solid performances.
During last week, Sid said that the team just need to play through these issues. Sid himself has been struggling with the absences of his teammates. Crosby is currently enduring the longest goal drought in his NHL career… 7 games without a goal! Obviously Crosby’s 1st line mates are dropping like flies at this point with Chris Kunitz, Patric Hornqvist and Pascal Dupuis all currently side-lined. Hopefully the Pens can start getting healthy and add some stability soon.
The Pens next game is against the Calgary Flames. Hopefully Sid and the boys can bounce back after a disappointing overtime loss against the New York Rangers.
LET’S GO PENS!