The Hockey Gods hate the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With James Neal and Jordan Staal shelved long-term and Craig Adams having suffered a "bad-looking knee injury," the Penguins might spend the next month with a more complete lineup out of the lineup than the one they'll actually put on the ice.
- The Penguins have lost 210 man-games to injury in just 40 contests, or have had 5.25 players on the bench for each game this season—sometimes fewer, often more. They lead the league in that category and are on pace to lose 430.5 man-games this season.
- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal have appeared in only 10 games together since the beginning of the 2010-11 season, 129 games ago.
- 2011 will mark the second consecutive season in which Crosby and Staal (likely) will have missed more than 20 games.
- Team leaders Crosby (PPG), Kris Letang (TOI), Neal (G, PPG, SOG) and Staal (PK TOI amongst forwards) won't play again until February, at best.
- Letang, Neal and Staal were on pace to set career-highs in points and goals. Those pursuits are likely over.
- Nine Penguins players have missed at least 10 games this season. Neal, Staal and Adams are likely to join them soon. Several more have or will have missed 20 or more games. Crosby has missed 32 games. Only six Penguins skaters, one of them Craig Adams, have played in every game this season.
Keep these guys out of the casinos.
The mental toll on those players left standing has to be absolutely staggering. It's been a calendar year since they last knew that their Captain would be there to lead them, and it seems no game goes by without at least one more man getting hurt.
Dan Bylsma pulled all the right strings last season and his players willed their way to an unlikely 106 points.
Doing so once is a tall order. Twice must be disheartening, to say the very, very least.
The Pens are in a hole. Still, let the bridge-jumpers and bandwagoneers save their hyperbolic breath for another disaster. The season's not over yet.
Five rational thoughts amidst a storm of irrational circumstances: