The Penguins showed their cards this past weekend by completely falling apart against two teams that they very well could meet in these coming playoffs. While these games were not MUST win, they were both important enough to further develop their identity. Unfortunately though they come out of those losses battered and beaten without a single thing to show for it. In an article I wrote for Hockeytracker.net I explained how I believe the lack of accountability and leadership are the two biggest factors in what has become of our beloved Penguins. It’s true I believe the leaders on the team either have not or are not doing enough to better the squad. With that said I read something in a separate blog that makes a lot of sense and is something many, even myself, forgets on occasion.
“They cannot be Sidney Crosby’s Penguins they need to be The Pittsburgh Penguins. Each one contributes. Each one Matters.” (Pensinitiative.com)
I, like many of you, decided to press the panic button after Sunday afternoons ATROCIOUS loss. Why? Because I believe all of the issues that plagued this team in the past 3 or 4 years has not been eradicated. All of which became very clear to me after their game against Detroit.
Leadership, Accountability, Composure and Scoring depth.
The leaders on this team are failing and the further they fall the harder the rest of the team will fail in the post-season. I pointed out Crosby earlier as he is the most visible of the leaders on the team, if not only because of that “C” sewn on his chest. Regardless he continuously blows off issues with comments like “we have to get better.” He constantly refuses to point out the real problems by always putting himself on the blame list instead of pointing out the real failures of the team. And those are just a few of his faults as a leader. Yes he performs well on the ice and tries to lead by example, but this team needs much more than that at this point.
The lack of accountability started as far back as 3 years ago when the Penguins blew a series lead against the Philadelphia Flyers. Since then it has progressively gotten worse. Removing Dan Bylsma as the coach was the first step in correcting this issue, unfortunately some of the main problem players have remained. Kunitz, a supposed leader of the team, is one of them. It’s true that Head Coach Mike Johnston must reel them in and hold them accountable for their on ice antics, but sometimes a coach can only go so far, especially when players have been so use to one way for so long.
One thing that has hurt this team throughout the season is their lack of composure. The Penguins are by far the most penalized team in the league and have shown very little in attempts to changing their ways. This here is something the coaching staff MUST fix heading into the playoffs. But much like holding the players accountable for their poor play, holding them accountable for their lack of composure can only go so far. The players will continue to fail until THEY decide a change is needed.
It doesn’t matter how strong a teams possession numbers are or how strong a goalie is, all teams will find themselves watching others raise Lord Stanley’s Cup if they don’t have scoring depth. Unfortunately this is a BIG problem for the Penguins and at this point there appears to be no solution. The success of this team hinges on 3 players this spring and I hate to say this but I am not confident in their abilities leading this team through a long playoff run.
So we can all point fingers at Jim Rutherford who, for my money, has done a great job rebuilding this team thus far. Or you can blame Head Coach Mike Johnston and the rest of his staff. The real issues lie with the players, be it the leaders or the rentals, these players need to want to change, they need to want to be successful, they need to put aside their own personal issues and play FOR the Logo, only then will this team find it’s identity and have success.
And if there is any hope for this season this HAS to start tonight.
Thanks for reading!
– Robert Slavinsky