Keep Calm & Carry On
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, January 2012 happens.
On new year’s eve, I was sitting with my good friend and former FF staff member Zack Dawson. We were rejoicing at the fact that 2011, an absolutely atrocious year for the Penguins in the injury department, was finally coming to an end.
This year certainly hasn’t started any better.
The current list of injuries the Pittsburgh Penguins are dealing with right now is beyond staggering. Simply put, there isn’t a team in the NHL right now that can gripe about such a vast and overwhelming set of circumstances as the one the Penguins currently find themselves in.
The latest victims, James Neal and Jordan Staal, put a damper on an offense that was already struggling to score goals with regularity.
A lot of talk has been made recently that Dan Bylsma’s aggressive system might be to blame for the recurrent injuries. But Bylsma’s system has nothing to do with a knee-to-knee hit, or a broken foot, or a concussion suffered in the third period of a Montreal game. These are just freak incidents, so freak that you might start to consider the possibility that the CONSOL Energy Center is built on some type of sacred burial ground.
Before long, we’ll be seeing Geno get sucked into the jumbotron to hang out with Carol Ann from Poltergeist.
So, what can be done? Certainly Ray Shero isn’t going to mortgage the future of the team in making a deal before the deadline that would only provide a band-aid to an already deplorable situation.
It all comes down to work ethic. And Dan Bylsma is chock-full of that. The Pittsburgh Penguins cannot sit around and feel sorry for themselves. More importantly, as fans, they need us now more than ever.
Kunitz is skating with Malkin and Sullivan on the top line. That’s still a formidable offensive threat. Sullivan’s had a plethora of scoring chance this year, with any luck, his two linemates can assist him in getting hot again and finding the net more.
Eric Tangradi is going to get a chance to play on the second line with Tyler Kennedy on the other wing and Pascal Dupuis at center. Kennedy, with only 4 goals on the year, has to start making the money from his new contract right now. Dupuis is having a banner year, if he can spark Tangradi and Kennedy, the size and tenacity of that line might start creating problems for the rest of the league.
All hope is not lost. The Penguins travel to Washington on Wednesday. Let’s reserve judgment to see how they handle getting up for a huge rivalry game on the road with a depleted roster. We’re about to see if Dan Bylsma can earn himself another Jack Adams candidacy.
One key point to make in all this is that of Marc-Andre Fleury. The fire that Fleury lit to start this season has burnt down to a smoldering ember. Dare I say it, but the success of this team might now solely rely on his goaltending ability. Three or more goals on a nightly basis just won’t do it anymore. The Penguins need to stick to the gameplan, outwork the opposition, and win the dirtiest games imaginable.
Based on the way the last two years have gone, it’s safe to say they shouldn’t be unfamiliar to those.