It has only been 11 games into this NHL season, but there are definitely things to start worrying about for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have looked very sluggish as of late, and now have dropped three games in a row. This streak may not end just yet, either, with them still on their road trip out west.
The Penguins need to address many aspects of their game, and make changes to them quickly or they are going to be dropping more games in a row. Here are three things that they need to address now in order to get themselves moving forward again:
Shoot the Puck!
The Penguins' lineup is filled with goal scorers, but for some reason they are all more worried about making the perfect saucer pass across the middle to a waiting one-timer. Right now, the Penguins have to shoot the puck. I do not care if the shots are all from the point, just shoot the puck on net, and keep shooting it.
The more shots on goal you have, the more fatigued a goaltender will become (I know this is true; I was a goalie, and some games I would face 50-plus shots, and I was sucking air for the next few days). Plus, when a shot gets to the net there is a chance that it will go in.
The Penguins have looked awful in the past few weeks, getting outshot by a large margin. Last night against the Phoenix Coyotes they had two shots—let me repeat that—two shots in the first period, in a game in which they got embarrassed by a lesser Coyotes team.
If I were coach Therrien I would have shooting practice. No skating or passing; you stand on one end of the ice and give each guy 100 pucks and have him shoot for two hours. It is as if the Penguins have forgotten what got them to Stanley Cup last year, and that was their explosive offense. If they wish to do the same this year they need to revert back to those ways.
Giveaways Seem to be Part of the Gameplan
I do not know how many times I have seen Evgeni Malkin skate with the puck all over the zone, try all these spin-o-rama moves, and then just end up turning the puck over. It is not just Malkin doing this, but Crosby, Orpik, Stall, Letang, and others. They are trying to be too fancy out there, and need to just remember the basics in the game, and then things will start to develop for them.
From time to time, these plays that Crosby and Malkin are trying will pan out and they will result in an open winger and a goal. However, with the way that the Penguins have been playing, it is not working. The Penguins have to just move the puck quickly, and cycle down low; this will lead to open men on the far side of the net, and hopefully a good shot on goal. See? Basic plays lead to shots, it is all pretty simple.
This team looks like somebody went out and picked 20 guys off the street suited them up, and expected them to gel by the time they got on the ice. The Penguins' lineup is filled with great players, but as of right now that is all they are: great players.
When you take great players, and you let them get to know one another and click, then you will have yourself a great team, but for now they are just a team with great players. Coach Therrien needs to make a lineup and stick with it. I do not care if the lines play a bit rusty or are slow at first.
You cannot have a different lineup every night. You have to allow players to get used to their linemates, and the more time you let them play together the more they will mold together. Hey, if you have to make them room together on trips, or make them go and do things as a line, then do it.
The Penguins did this when they were in Sweden. They were put into teams and had to accomplish goals around the city. By spending this time as a group, you get to have fun, and just relax with your teammates. This leads to you becoming relaxed with them when you are out on the ice. This then turns into smooth crisp passes, and being able to know where your linemates are going to be before they get there.
Chemistry plays probably the most important role in sports, and without you can pretty much guarantee that your team is not going to be very successful that season.
Well those are what I think the Penguins need to worry about right now. If they take care of these three things, it should help out their game greatly. If you have anything that you think they need to improve on, or if you think that any of these three that I have mentioned are not relevant, let me know.