Before each NHL season, you check all the teams, some teams you feel good, some teams you feel bad. I have to say, everyone: I am a little worried about this year’s Pittsburgh Penguins.
In some ways, I should probably feel good about Pens. They have two best players. They won the first place in their department. They used two very capable forward lines and a strong enough defensive top partner. Unfortunately, in the past three seasons, all the above-mentioned feeling good has not allowed them to win a playoff series.
As training camp approaches, their two best geniuses, injured centers Evgeny Malkin and Sidney Crosby will not be able to play at the beginning of the regular season, and will be in the ever-improving metropolis. In the competition zone, the Penguins may be seriously injured just by absence. Pens is a member of the Metro team. Ideally, they can qualify for the playoffs under ideal circumstances, and hope they can avenge the New York Islanders’ first-round defeat last season.
But nothing more-yes seven The potential playoff threat in the subway, only Columbus can almost guarantee to rank at the bottom of the division standings. Yes, the New Jersey Devils choosing one of the four available playoff seats may be a further goal, but if Doggy Hamilton helps them and their youth team thrive, then it could be the Washington Capitals team. ; New York Rangers; and Islands; Philadelphia Flyers; and Carolina Hurricanes. This means that seven teams are competing for a spot in the playoffs. There is almost no room for error.
This is the problem facing the Penguins. Both Crosby and Malkin need surgery this offseason: Malkin injured his knee; Crosby, on his wrist. According to the time required for Malkin and Crosby to resume operations, the depth of the pen in the middle will be severely tested.
Head coach Mike Sullivan knows that the sharp drop in production caused by the absence of Crosby and Malkin will not be easily remedied. The acquisition of Jeff Carter last season produced good statistics on the offensive end. Sullivan will turn to him to play more playing time, but others will need to strengthen and try to fill Crosby and Malkin every season for this Part of the shoes worn by a team.
The absence of Malkin and Crosby on the court for two to four weeks may create enough opportunities for an opponent of the Penguins to sneak up and play their playoff tickets at Pittsburgh’s expense.
Or this is another factor that may prove their downfall this season, just like last year: the goalkeeper. Yes, you can say that this may just be a breakdown of the excellent performance of starter Tristan Jarrie in the first round of the 2021 playoffs against Kojima.
But what if it is not? Considering the substitute Casey De Smith, if Jarley is wobbly again to start the 2021-22 season, De Smith can’t expect to play 50-60 games. (This is not to say that he cannot do it; on the contrary, he has not proven that he can do it.)
If their goalkeeper does have a problem, Pittsburgh will not easily find a replacement. Most teams now choose to adopt more tandem, 50/50 matches or 60/40 GP methods for network thinking; therefore, the options for immediate access and insertion will be reduced. Even if they can find a team that is willing to send them a capable goalkeeper, they don’t have enough salary space to make it work. According to CapFriendly.com, Pens General Manager Ron Hextall currently has only $121,795 available for work, which effectively prevents them from adding any important talent. (Also, yes, yes, I used to be Realizing that the Penguins will accumulate cap space, the longer Crosby and Malkin will not be able to play. This is not the situation they should hope for. )
The Penguins’ defensive lineup is far from the best that the NHL can provide, but they performed well last year before Jia Nianqian, and in Le Tang’s contract season-perhaps the last important player of the 37-year-old player-Peng The Sri Lanka team may actually develop into the top 10 blue line group. But this is a very big “if”, and no one should expect Pittsburgh to win the playoffs with this year’s defensive leadership.
They need to be the club that scored 196 goals in 56 games last year. If Crosby and Malkin recover quickly and stay healthy for the rest of the season, they may struggle to reach or exceed this number.
The longer their top two centers leave, the more I worry about the Penguins. Is Pittsburgh a prosperous or sluggish team? In some ways, yes; another unbearable loss in the playoff series, maybe Malkin decides to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, he wants to play for another team. That would be the case where the wheels fell off, but it’s not as far-fetched as it seems.
But hey, maybe I’m wrong here, the Penguins will win the division championship again and finally get rid of their recent sad history in the first round. If anyone can almost single-handedly put the team on their shoulders, it is Crosby. But he is now 34 years old, and those stubborn hockey players have caused damage to his body.
I worry about him, I worry about the 35-year-old Malkin. Just like I was worried about Pittsburgh this year. When you have fun, time flies, thanks to interesting makers such as Crosby and Malkin, the years of Steeltown have passed. But the end will never be as far away as you hope.
Sometimes the end is closer than you think. And this time, the Penguins may find themselves at a crossroads in competition.