Well once again last night we saw how the Pens coaches, players, and fans have learned to loose rather than learn to win like they did in the 06-07 season. The Pens are through 5 of 9 games that I previously said would be the second most important part of their current year schedule, and are falling flat on their faces. They have been able to earn only 2 of the possible 10 points against Altlantic Division teams and need to win their next 4 games to salvage some points.
For the first time since M.T. has taken charge behind the bench, I think he has gone the longest time and not significantly change the line combinations. I think the players have become accustom to the changes and now all things from the first line through the defense and the goalies all look to be confused. Last night the Pens played good for about 10 minutes the entire game. Otherwise the defense was unable to move the puck out of their own end on breakouts, unable to clear the front of the net, the forwards continue to refrain from shooting the puck, everyone continues to take questionable penalties, the PK is not where it was at the beginning of the season, the PP is still not getting the job done, and goaltending in general is shaky at best.
Some big changes are needed, and even though the Pens are still only 5 points behind the division leading Flyers, if changes are not made, the Pens will find themselves out of the playoff talks by Christmas. Some simple "big" changes would be to change the look of their powerplay. All teams know how we are going to set up the PP, so why not give it a new look? How about trying to employ a set break-out for the team so that they are not depending on the defense to make long first passes and then getting players to learn how to gain the offensive zone and get things set-up?
Now, many have been calling for the Pens to trade Fleury or even get a new coaching staff. Personally, I think that these changes would be a sign that management has conceded the season as a loss, and things are not totally lost. We just need to do some significant "tweeking". Things will begin to bounce right for the pens soon, but a new look might to help to move that along quickly.
Next up, the Pens will face a Devils team on Monday night that has always played well at Mellon arena, and will be looking to capture the 500th win for one the greatest goalies that has played, Martin Brodeur. If the Pens can generate the offensive power that they beat the Devils with the last time the two teams met, and coincidentally the last time the Pens won a game, one week ago. At 6-8-1 the Pens need to remember what got them to the playoffs last year, and that is they need to "learn how to win" again. They came back from many two goal deficits last year to capture a win or at least a point in getting the game to OT, and they need to get those game faces back again.