Do the Pittsburgh Penguins have too many muckers and grinders and not enough scoring power? Only three players on the current Penguins roster topped the 20 goal mark last season. All three of those players were centers and one of them, Jordan Staal, will miss significant time at the beginning of the season due to a foot injury.
The only Pens winger to top 20 goals last season was Bill Guerin and he is now with the arch-rival Philadelphia Flyers.
In no particular order, it looks like the top 14 forwards going into the season are Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Craig Adams, Arron Asham, Mike Comrie, Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis, Tyler Kennedy, Chris Kunitz, Mike Rupp, Max Talbot, Eric Godard, and Eric Tangradi.
Only 12 of them will be in the starting lineup when the Pens open the season against the Flyers, but with Staal out and Godard only playing when a true enforcer is needed, it leaves the door open for Tangradi to make the team out of camp.
Where will the secondary scoring come from? Craig Adams didn’t score a regular season goal last year and Tyler Kennedy looked like a right-handed Rico Fata. Chris Kunitz can put the puck in the net and was a very durable player with the Ducks, but with his style of physical play and his small frame; it will be tough for him to stay healthy for a full 82-game season.
With all of that said, the Penguins do have what it takes to make another run at the Stanley Cup. Sure it would be nice for Crosby to have another Marian Hossa-type player on his wing, but in the salary cap era it is impossible to have a flawless team.
Ray Shero did a great job this offseason upgrading the defense. Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek are great additions and will make the Pens extremely tough to play against. The upgraded defense will only make Marc-Andre Fleury that much better.
The name of the game is scoring more goals than your opponent, and if the opposition has trouble scoring goals and you have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on your team, you are in good shape.
The Pens are sticking with the plan that won them the Cup in 2009. Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone were on the Cup-losing team in 2008, not on the Cup-winning team in 2009. The 2009 wingers that year didn’t exactly scare anyone. Petr Sykora and Miroslav Satan took turns being benched. Their top wingers that year were Guerin, Kunitz, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Talbot. It’s very comparable to what the Pens have now.
The Pens will be fine this year. They are built for the playoffs. They can beat any team multiple ways. Their defense will create turnovers; and with the speed of Crosby and Malkin, the Pens transition game will be very explosive.
They are also tough enough to get a great cycle going deep in the opposition’s zone; that will take its toll and wear down the other team. Despite the lack of star wings, look for great things from the 2010-2011 Pittsburgh Penguins.