Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pens lose 4 in a Row, 6 of 7

In what has become an all too fimiliar situation, the Penguins lost. A one goal game. After getting out to a slow start. And a rally started by Sidney Crosby (who's now tied with Henrik Zetterberg for the scoring race). While starting the backup goaltender. And having two promising young players (Tyler Kennedy and especially Colby Armstrong) victims to healthy scratches.

Something has got to give. The current situation is just not working. As the title reads, this is 4 losses in a row and 6 of the past 7. This losing streak has coincided with a crucial stretch of divisional games.

It's one thing to be losing, it's another to be losing in the manner that the Penguins are losing. Among the increasing embattled Michel Therrien's questionable coaching decisions are:
  • Use of Marc-Andre Fleury. Dany Sabourin has been the go-to guy. Therrien has pubically cited Fleury's lack of confidence, but nothing the head coach has done has inspired any confidence in a still young goaltender.
  • Icetime for veterans. Tonight only 3 forwards got more even strength icetime than Mark Recchi. Gary Roberts also plays more than he should, considering his limited production this year and penchant for taking damning penalties.
  • Icetime for young players. Jordan Staal has 1 goal this year and got more icetime tonight than his season average. On the other hand, Erik Christensen averages 11:06 minutes a night.
  • Constant line shuffling. We all know the outcry about this, so I'll spare readership rehashing how Therrien shuffles lines so quickly it makes his team's collective head spin. Which may lead into the next point...
  • 5 bench minors in 17 games. There is no reason for a NHL caliber team to be as sloppy with line changes as the Pens have been under Therrien's stewardship. Surely some of this is on the players; as being at such a high level they should be a little more aware of what's going on. But after a while, it's become obvious the coaching staff is not instilling the discipline to correct the problem.
  • Healthy scratches. Colby Armstrong has been a healthy scratch 4 times this year, all recently. Rob Rossi (a beat writer) said on Pittsburgh radio (sorry no link) that Colby has "no idea" why they're benching him and has absolutely no clue what to correct to get himself back in the regular lineup. That is very, very disturbing and madenning.
  • While on that topic, the Pens have scratched guys like Armstrong, Christensen and Tyler Kennedy but been more liberal with guys like Staal, Jarrko Ruutu and Georges Laraque. Really the only consistent and solid forwards for the season have been Crosby, Malkin, Maxime Talbot and Adam Hall (and probably Ryan Malone), every other forward has been up and down and deserving of a shakeup. Why some players have landed in a doghouse and why some other (who's performances have been similiar) have continued to skate in their same roles is mind boggling to me.

The list is getting longer and longer all the time. Michel Therrien needs to start winning, even though Ray Shero publically dismissed all talk of making a mid-season change, something needs to change to get the Pens winning again.

I've never been much of a "fire the coach" supporter in any regards; I realize it's easier to be the monday morning QB than it is to actually make the thousands of quick decisions a coach has to make on the spot. But things are getting out of hand in Penguin land and there is (and should be) significant debate as to whether Michel Therrien is the man to take this team forward.

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