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March 20, 2019
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
The Pittsburgh Steelers may be celebrating a sixth Super Bowl, but it doesn’t look like the Penguins will be enjoying a championship this season. The Arctic Birds continue to embarrass themselves on a nightly basis, blowing a 3-1 third-period lead to the Devils Friday night before dropping a 5-4 decision to the lowly Maple Leafs Saturday.
The Penguins, 9-16-1 over their last 26 games, find themselves mired in tenth place in the Wales Conference. On the bright side, they only have to be three points better than the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers over the final 30 games to make the playoffs. Hardly an impossible dream.
One slight problem: the Penguins are terrible.
They’re simply far too easy to play against. No grit. The Penguins are an aptly named team, because, like their waddling namesakes, their wings are useless, too.
Pittsburgh’s lack of talent on the wings was never more apparent than when facing the Devils. Not counting Geno Malkin, who was skating out of position on the left side for Kid Crosby, the Penguins had Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis, Eric Godard, Tyler Kennedy, Miro Satan, Petr Sykora, and Chris Minard on the wings. Egad.
In comparison, El Diablo rolled out Patrik Elias, Zach Parise, Brian Gionta, Jamie Langenbrunner, Brian Rolston, Brendan Shanahan, David Clarkson, and Michael Rupp. That’s not even close.
The Devils have speed, skill, power, and physicality up and down the wings. The Penguins have, well, nothing in particular. They’ve got Sykora, who can still bury pucks, and some serviceable third- and fourth-liners in Cooke, Dupuis, and Godard. And a healthy Ruslan Fedotenko would merely add another third-liner to the mix.
Godard and Bissonnette are the only guys willing to take the body, and they’re incapable of playing more than five or six minutes. The Pens need to add some bangers, some guys who make life hell along the wall. The opposition never pays a price, they never get worn down, which could be why the Pens have coughed up so many third-period leads.
Pittsburgh needs to add at least one goal-scoring winger and another two legit NHL grinders if they have any hopes of repeating last year’s memorable Cup run. And good luck doing that without parting with Jordan Staal or Kris Letang.
Murray is the problem here, folks. It’s not Hartsburg’s fault the Sens have Filip f’n Kuba as their No. 1 defenseman. And I forget, but was it Hartsburg who committed $49 million over seven years to a no-heart, punk-ass loser like Jason Spezza?
But don’t worry. Some dude named Cory Clouston will coach the team the rest of the season. Problem solved.
But tying this back to the Pens, how good would Chris Neil and Christoph Schubert look in black and gold? Neil is unrestricted after the season and is earning only $1.1 million. Schubert is signed through next year at $883,000. I’d take ‘em both. And with the Sens hurting for defensemen, there could be a deal to be made.
Souray is ninth among NHL defensemen with 32 points, and his 12 goals rank behind only Mike Green (15), Shea Weber (14), and Dan Boyle (13). Souray’s 157 shots trail only Dion Phaneuf (166) among rearguards.
Souray’s had a rough go of it lately, though. He has zero goals, four assists, and a minus-4 over his last dozen games. I don’t care. He’s still cool. And he can still throw. Souray remains one of the most underrated fighters in hockey. Ask Craig Weller.
But here are three clips of Souray dropping the hammer…