We've always wanted to do something in the vein of the brilliant "Fire Joe Morgan" ilk but have never really found the right ammunition. But then our old friend the Peerless Prognosticator, looked into the crystal ball and saw the following when he asked himself 12 questions...So what are questions without answers, right?
11. Will the Caps meet the Penguins in the playoffs?
The short answer to this is…”no.”
The long answer: the Caps are 1-5 in the playoffs against the Penguins, so hopefully the team that hasn't won a playoff series in over a decade doesn't run up against their historical and more experienced nemesis.
Not in the first round, not in the second round, not ever this year. Why?
Because one team will lose early? Like the team that lost early last year? Tell us!
Because the Penguins are the kind of mess in the same way that a room of furniture bought from eight different stores is a mess.
Oh, I thought it was because the Penguins were currently out of the playoffs if they were to start today. Which they don't. And Pittsburgh is only a whole point out of 8th place.
Maybe it is because they are a mess of furniture though.
The pieces don’t seem to fit coherently to make for a long, successful run of wins.
The Penguins won six games in a row in November. And the core of the team (Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Brooks Orpik, Ryan Whitney, etc) was three goals from winning a Stanley Cup last June.
But, you know, other than that they can't really be expected to make any long, successful runs.
Do they match Crosby and Malkin on a line, or do they split them up?
Crosby and Malkin are 1 and 2 in the points race. Malkin, in particular, has shown that he can be effective as a winger on Crosby's line or centering a "second" line.
Together or apart, they make plays. Whether or not they are on the same line seems like a bigger concern for how the opposition sets their checking lines and defensive pairs.
When is Gonchar coming back?
About 2-3 weeks, which is a little ahead of the original prognosis.
What winger can they match with Crosby to get any production?
Evgeni Malkin, Tyler Kennedy, Petr Sykora or whoever they add at the trade deadline.
And who are they looking to add production to? Crosby has 45 even strength points this season--second in the league only to Malkin's 51. They've rotated no shortage of players with Sid (like Malkin, Kennedy, Max Talbot, Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke) and Crosby has put up numbers. Whoever is playing hot gets their shot on the top line, and Crosby usually comes through with them.
What happened to the power play (tied with Tampa for 23rd overall and dead last in the NHL on the road)?
The loss of Gonchar, who was #2 in the entire league with 46 power play points last season. The next highest defensemen (Nicklas Lidstrom and Mark Streit) had 34 PP points. Gonchar also led all players in the NHL with 38 power play assists.
Given that he's played a grand total of 0 games this season the lack of power play success comes a little bit more into focus.
What happened to Fleury (he’s saved fewer than 90 percent of the shots he’s faced in nine of the last 16 games he’s played)?
A lot of shots is what happened. Fleury's faced 1095 shots in 36 appearances (over 30 a game). Despite that he still has a save percentage of .911 and a record of 18-13-1. Jose Thedore's save percentage is currently .899, by the way.
Do Crosby and coach Michel Therrien not get along?
Will – or when will – Therrien be fired?
Barring an extended, extended losing streak, no time this season.
The Penguins have, as they say, “issues” that go far beyond a Stanley Cup hangover.
Uhh, it's February. No one on the team is thinking about last season, they're focused on this year.
And as mentioned, of this writing one point of of 8th place (though other teams do have games in hand). One whole point, time to turn it in for the season! They're so hungover they're practically still drunk. Jordan Staal hasn't been this hungover since the day after his brother's bachelor party!
Even Barry Melrose, who would know the specie (having seen one up close coaching Tampa Bay this year), said that the Penguins aren’t a very good hockey team.
Even Barry Melrose! Well that solves it! No chance at all the Penguins could get to the playoffs now if the esteemed Barry Melrose thinks they aren't a very good hockey team. Because surely has he ever erred in his hockey judgement.