Just a quick note to the regular readers of NHLPens.com. I was out of town all week in San Diego and was unable to provide my normal level of site updates to include game previews and game recaps. I spent all week in the Rancho Bernardo community that was ravaged by fires 2 weeks ago. It was devastating to see the damage done by the wildfires; the area is still smokey with ash flying in the air when the winds blow. Hundreds of homes within 1 mile of my hotel were completely destroyed. In some cases, whole neighborhoods were gone. Unlike a forest fire that burns everything in its path, these fires jumped around in such a way that you could find houses that were burned to the ground in the middle of neighborhoods that were otherwise untouched. That was the result of 60 mph+ winds blowing flaming embers as much as two miles through the air to land on people’s roofs. Please keep these people in your thoughts as a lot of people lost a great deal.
In the world of Penguins Hockey, it was a highly inconsistent week as the Pens dropped 2 of 3 divisional games to the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers. The one win came against the New Jersey Devils on the road. The week started out very well with the Penguins dealing New Jersey a 5-0 shutout blow that chased goaltender Martin Brodeur from the net. Then on Tuesday, the Pens gave up a home game to the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 3-1. On Thursday night, they lost again to the Rangers in New York by a score of 4-2. With the 2 losses, the Penguins fell below 0.500 and dropped to 4th place in the Atlantic behind the Rangers, Islanders and Flyers. They also fell to 8th in the East and 16th in the league. In the 3 games, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin managed to keep their individual point streaks alive by picking up at least a point in each game. In the loss to Philadelphia, the Penguins failed to convert on the power play for the only time this season in which they have not scored at least one power play goal.
While it is still relatively early in the season, the Penguins have been unable to find consistency in their game. In fact, they have only won 1 of their last 5 games. You certainly cannot blame the top line of Crosby, Malkin and Malone. They have been managed to stay consistent and put up solid numbers. However, aside from the 5-0 win in New Jersey, the balance of the team has been missing in action. All four lines need to consistently contribute on the scoreboard if the team expects to compete well in the league. As such, the lower lines need to step up their game and stop depending on the top line to put up the numbers. The team needs to take a look at what they did in New Jersey and mint it as the gold standard for how to play as a team for a full 60-minutes. The challenge will be to keep their heads in the game and maintain the discipline necessary to put forth a full 60-minutes of competitive play across all lines. If they can do this, the team has the potential to be more than a middle of the pack hockey team. If they cannot, look for the Penguins to struggle to stay at 0.500 for the balance of the season.