Bad Habits Pittsburgh Penguins Stars Need to Drop in 2013-14
While each of the Penguins has strengths to his game—in hockey as in life—sometimes a players can develop bad habits when he relies too much on that strength.
With that in mind, let's look at the bad habits that the Pens' stars need to drop in 2013-2014.
Bad Habit: Overreliance on Reflexes
While Marc-Andre Fleury’s reflexes have made him an all-star and Stanley Cup champion, his reliance on those reflexes to make saves at the expense of proper positioning has led to prolonged slumps.
As with any goaltender, Fleury has good stretches and bad ones.
Unfortunately, in those moments when he struggles, when reflexes fail and a goaltender should fall back on fundamentals, Fleury seems unwilling or unable to do so.
Bad Habit: Lack of Net Presence
Although he is capable of scoring in bunches, James Neal is also prone to extended slumps, as he experienced early in the playoffs last season.
Having enjoyed great success shooting from the perimeter, Neal at times seems too content to stay there rather than taking the puck to the net and simplifying his game when mired in a scoring slump.
If he is to take his game to the next level, Neal must be willing to diversify his game and go to the high-traffic areas to score ugly goals instead of just looking for the pretty ones.
Bad Habit: Lack of Consistency
As was demonstrated in the Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins, Kris Letang can be pressured into mistakes by the more physical teams.
In addition, he has had a tendency to ignore his defensive responsibilities by attempting to make the big play.
To address this, the Penguins brought back former-Pen Rob Scuderi to pair with Letang and help him find that consistency that is expected of a Norris Trophy candidate.
Bad Habit: Lapses in Composure
While his competitive fire makes him tough to play against, Evgeni Malkin's inability to—at times—control his emotions have allowed teams to knock him off his game.
When faced with bad luck, bad play or bad calls, Malkin's focus seems to be on dropping his gloves rather than elevating his game, as was the case in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins.
With the Penguins struggling, Malkin chose to square off against Patrice Bergeron and spent the start of the third period in the penalty box instead of on the ice where he was needed.
Bad Habit: Unselfishness
While Crosby's playmaking is a strength, his tendency to look to set up others first sometimes leads to missed opportunities, especially when his linemates are struggling, as they were during the Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins.
In these moments, Crosby's pass-first, shoot-second tendency causes him to forgo opportunities for himself even though the Pens would be best served by Crosby showing his 50-goal scorer form of a few years ago.
If Crosby is to lead the Penguins to another Stanley Cup, he has to be more willing to shoot more and pass less, especially in those times when his linemates are struggling and the Penguins are looking for a spark.