A slow start to the season, resulting in two losses where the Penguins only mustered up one goal (a beauty by Phil the Thrill), and the team’s faithful have already started pressing the panic button feverishly. However, there are three adjustments that will surely change the tide of the season as well as everyone’s view on what to expect moving forward.
1) Crosby needs to prove he is still the Best
You know what is unacceptable? Sidney Crosby having ZERO shots on net after the first two games of the season.
The so called “Best Player in the World” seems to have forgotten how games are won. I will be the first to admit that Crosby is absolutely the top player in the league and quite possibly the World. However, after the first two games of the 2015/16 season he looks more like an average NHLer than anything else. His constant desire to attempt and make the impossible pass seems to be a trend that he is refusing to break.
I mean it is understandable that Sid would want to pass the puck to new line-mate Phil Kessel on a regular basis. His shot is one of, if not the best in the league. But if Crosby wants to see Phil actually have the time and space to make his shots count, Sidney has to make the defenders respect his own abilities so they are not ignoring him in favor of #81.
2) Scuderi NEEDS to be benched
Why must the fan base be tortured with watching Scuderi on the ice?
His slow speed and lack of size makes his presence baffling to many. Especially when it comes to Mike Johnston’s system which HEAVILY relies on the defense joining the rush and contributing to the transition game. If Johnston refuses to adjust his strategy to accommodate the players he has available to him, then it is time to bury Scuds in the press box.
3) Adjust the Defensive Scheme
As I mentioned above, Mike Johnston has implemented a system which requires skilled defenders with good hockey IQ, speed and skill to join in on the transition game as well as pinching up into the offensive zone to hopefully contribute on the score-sheet. Unfortunately though, the Penguins have only two maybe three defensemen who have the ability to be a factor in this regard.
Head Coach Johnston should consider forcing his defenders, not named Kris Letang, to focus more on the defensive side of the puck instead of having them pinch up the ice only to see an odd man rush going the other way, leaving someone like Rob Scuderi left to “defend” the onslaught by himself.
I understand that Johnston prefers his defense to contribute to the offense, but let’s be realistic here. Scuderi is too old and incapable of being effective in that way. Lovejoy has never shown much offensive upside. Cole is a solid two-way blue-liner, but lacks the speed and skill to contribute consistently. Maatta is coming off of roughly 10 months of no NHL action and Dumoulin is still trying to find his NHL legs.
Maybe it would be better to simplify the scheme until the proper pieces are in place!? What kind of adjustments do you think the Penguins have to do in order to start winning again?
– Robert Slavinsky