Pittsburgh Penguins: 5 Reasons the Penguins Didn't Need Shane Doan Anyway
After much push and pull from Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero, the Penguins have been unable to add Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan to their arsenal of offensive guns. Missing out on Doan is unfortunate for the Penguins, but it is hardly detrimental to the 2009 Stanley Cup Champions.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are widely regarded as one of the most elite teams in the NHL. At the end of the 2012 season, the Penguins were a point shy of the top spot in the Eastern Conference (108)—without the help of NHL star Sidney Crosby, who was sidelined with a concussion and two injured vertebrae after colliding with teammate Chris Kunitz.
Doan, who had a decent season in 2012 (22 G, 28 A, 50 PTS), was targeted by Shero in an attempt to strengthen his already heavily offensive team. The 35-year-old would have been a second-liner at best and could have provided leadership and support on the penalty kill.
Would Shane Doan have been a good signing for the Penguins? Sure.
Should Pittsburgh fans lose sleep over Doan’s decision to stay in Phoenix? Not at all.
Here are five reasons why the Penguins will be fine without Doan.
2012 League MVP: Evgeni Malkin
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With Crosby injured, the Penguins turned toward Evgeni Malkin to step up his already impressive game and take the reins in Pittsburgh. Malkin responded with a characteristically elite performance—his masterful 109 points (50 G, 59 A) in 74 games earned him the Art Ross Trophy, the Ted Lindsay Award and the Hart Trophy.
"I can't believe I'm sitting here, and around me there are three trophies," said Malkin (via NHL.com). "It's an unbelievable day for me."
Malkin has managed to put up three 100-point seasons over his six-season NHL career. With the exception of his 2010-11 season, in which he was out for half of the season with a knee injury, Malkin has never scored fewer than 77 points in a season.
To say the 26-year-old has a promising career ahead of him would be an understatement. Malkin has secured a spot among the NHL elite time and time again.
In the 2012 season, Malkin managed to score twice as many goals as Shane Doan in five fewer games played. As long as Malkin is in Pittsburgh, scoring will never be an issue for the Penguins.
Penguins' Offensive Numbers Were Among the Highest in 2012
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Although the Pittsburgh Penguins finished fourth in the league and second in the Eastern Conference in the past season, the Penguins tied the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Rangers with most wins in the league (51). Pittsburgh’s plethora of victories came as no surprise as the Pens were at the top of nearly every offense-related statistic.
The Penguins were ranked first in goals per game (3.33) and shots per game (33.9).
Pittsburgh also had one of the best special teams in the league. The Penguins had the third-best penalty kill (87.8 percent) and the fifth-best power play (19.7 percent).
The Penguins were among the top five in nearly all major offensive categories—a clear sign that the Penguins do not need much help in the offensive half of the game.
Neal, Kunitz, Dupuis Have Just Finished Their Best Seasons
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Sidney Crosby’s absence left a gap in the Penguins’ top line during the 2012 season—a void in the Pens’ offense needed filling. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, several forwards answered the call.
Most noteworthy was the explosion of 25-year-old James Neal, who came out of nowhere with 81 points last season (40 G, 41 A). Neal, who spent his five-year NHL career bouncing back and forth from Pittsburgh to the Dallas Stars, has finally found his home in Pittsburgh.
Chris Kunitz put up an NHL career-high 61 points (26 G, 35 A) after spending his past four seasons with the Penguins. Kunitz’s production has been trending upward throughout his seasons with Pittsburgh, cementing him as a solid forward in Pittsburgh’s secondary scoring.
Pascal Dupuis was a point shy of the 60-point mark (25 G, 34 A, 59 PTS)—a career high for the 11-year veteran. The 33-year-old is producing some of his best numbers yet, despite being in the latter half of his career.
These three solid depth players along with the Penguins’ elite duo of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are more than enough to amass the necessary amount of goals to win games.
One-Two Goalie Punch of Marc-Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun
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During the scoring frenzy that was the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Penguins saw that even Fleury, one of the league’s best goaltenders, needs some help every now and then. Tomas Vokoun, signed by the Penguins over the summer, will be a reliable crutch for Fleury during his rare off games.
According to CBS Local, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero hopes Vokoun’s presence will provide both competition and relief for Fleury. The Czech veteran is unlikely to dethrone Fleury as the Penguins’ starter, but the veteran’s skill and wisdom will have a positive impact on Fleury’s performance, and motivate him to play at his best.
In the 2012 playoffs, Marc-Andre Fleury showed his first sign of weakness since before 2006, when the Penguins had finished grooming the Canadian into the stellar goaltender he is today. Fleury let up a disastrous 26 goals in six games against the Flyers.
Shero took notes during his team’s playoff performance and addressed a small weakness in goaltending depth that was dormant until the playoffs, making the Penguins that much stronger of a team.
The Return of Sidney Crosby
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As if having Evgeni Malkin on the team was not enough, the Pittsburgh Penguins get to follow up one elite player with another—Sidney Crosby. The Pittsburgh Penguins finished a point short of first place with Crosby predominantly injured for a majority of the season—imagine if he was healthy.
That is exactly what the Penguins were imagining when they signed Crosby to an arguably risky 12-year contract worth $104.4 million this past summer, according to Forbes. Despite playing only 63 games in the past two seasons, Crosby’s recent string of injuries is a trend that Pittsburgh hopes is behind him.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Crosby looked sharp during informal team workouts during the offseason. “I've been feeling 100 percent. It feels good to not have to think about that, and to work as hard as you want. It's been really good,” said Crosby.
In 22 games played during the 2012 season, Crosby scored 37 points (8 G, 29 A), proving that although his scoring was not up to par, his ability to rack up the points has not skipped a beat.
Crosby also played in the Penguins’ short-lived playoff run, notching eight points in six games (3 G, 5 A).
To see Crosby trending upward is huge for Pittsburgh. The elite duo of Sid the Kid and Geno is devastating for any goalie forced to man the pipes, especially during the power play.