Petr Sykora: Once a Bargain, Now a Distant Memory

Chris MillerCorrespondent IMay 8, 2009

WASHINGTON - MAY 04:  Simeon Varlamov #40 of the Washington Capitals stops a shot on goal by Petr Sykora #17 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 4, 2009 at the Verizon Center in Washington,  DC.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

Just about everything went well for the Pittsburgh Penguins in their first round matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The same can be said in their second round matchup against the Washington Capitals, only they are not winning the most important battle thus far: wins.

The Penguins trailed in the series 2-0 and returned home to the Igloo knowing they must win both games to stay competitive in the series.  Coach Dan Bylsma also discovered that in order to win both games at home, he was going to have to make a few adjustments, and just as was the case in their first round series, Petr Sykora was benched in favor of "washout-of-the-year" candidate Miroslav Satan.

Satan proved himself in Game Three to provide more offense than Sykora has brought to the team in the playoffs thus far.  Satan skated harder, worked the boards above his potential, and found himself open for scoring opportunities, enough to fire the puck on net three times in just under eight minutes of ice time.

By comparison, Sykora has two shots in his last three games combined.  And his ice time?  Over 31 minutes.  Productivity?  I don't think so.  Does Satan deserve the roster spot? 

You better believe it.

Who would have thought that Sykora would fall this far down the totem pole?  When Pittsburgh signed him to a Two-year, $5 million contract before the 2007-2008 season, everyone questioned how Pittsburgh signed him so cheap.  Spending $2.5 million a year for 25 goals from a sniper, that's one good bargain. 

Sykora has made his mark as a Penguin, recording his first career hat trick this season, and also scoring his 300th career goal.  But these achievements fail to overlook the fact that underachievement has been Sykora's highlight of this season. 

Some say he's been injured.  I call it speculation.  It's also called an excuse for someone who is dressing for games but not producing. 

No one expects Sykora to be a superstar, but playing with Evgeni Malkin should play to his advantage.  It hasn't lately, and it won't for a while.  As long as his second line replacement Max Talbot continues to bring a dynamic speed element to the second line (which you could say helped to ignite Malkin in Game Three), and Satan holds his own on the fourth line, Dan Byslma has no need to change his lineup anytime soon, which ultimately keeps Sykora in a fashionable suit on game days barring injury.

Which also means that with all this time off, Sykora should start planning ahead a suitable home for himself in the upcoming season.