Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Devils are in the Details

As reported by PSI, Colby Armstrong is the latest Penguins to be socked with a nasty flu and will be out tonight and apparantely the newly re-acquired Kris Beech is having what was described as visa problems. How could a Canadian player who’s changed teams so frequently in the past 4 weeks be having visa problems is beyond us.

Even through this latest round of roster depletion the Penguins have 18 healthy skaters; so expect Therrien to run his unorthodox 11 forward/ 7 defenseman lineup. Which will probably mean that Brooks Orpik will get about 12 minutes of ice-time.

With 33 games remaining in the second “half” of the season (if you like to use the all-star break as the midpoint), the Penguins have quite a journey ahead of them. In a competitive division--the Atlantic has 5 teams with a .500+ regulation win loss record (the next closest is 3), Pittsburgh can’t afford to keep giving away points to rivals. Without their #1 center, leader and captain and the #1 goaltender for the foreseeable future, this is going to reveal a lot of character.

Though Malkin can and will shoulder a lot of the production burden, every forward on the team (especially members of the top 6 forwards like Sykora, Malone, Staal) must chip in with timely goal and play solid minutes. The team is going to need to stay out of the penalty box to keep the 23rd ranked penalty killing unit off the ice. Ty Conklin doesn’t have to be as dominate as he was his first 10-12 games, but he has to at least stop the ones a goalie should.

If the pieces fall together, the Penguins will get, by far, the best “deadline day” acquisition; that of course of Sidney Crosby (though the deadline is Feb 26th and Sid doesn’t figure to return until sometime in March, you get the point). Plus, something that makes us giddy, Gary Roberts is planning to return to skating on his own despite it was a month ago to this day that the 41 year old broke his leg. Soon too will guys like Armstrong, Fleury and maybe even Tyler Kennedy return to the lineup in the days/weeks ahead and be able to give the team a lift.

All they have to do is hold out for a little while. No better opponent to start the hanging and grabbing than the Devils; who are bound to be pissed off with their last performance when they blew a big lead (and we know NJ NEVER does that) and were called out by their coach.

1 comment:

The Peerless said...

"How could a Canadian player who’s changed teams so frequently in the past 4 weeks be having visa problems is beyond us."

...maybe he should try American Express...