I listen to sports talk shows and read hockey blogs and almost unanimously -- Penguin fans instst we need a scoring winger...or two...to get this team to where it needs to be.
There is no agruing the Pens would be a better team with at least one "more proven" goal scorer on the roster.
But, if you are like the majority of people that think that's why the Pens are hovering around .500 for the season and sitting in 10th place in the Eastern Conference playoff race --- then I think your assessment of the current situation may be slightly inaccurate.
Sure there have been games -- the last one against Detroit works nicely -- where a goal scoring winger may have made a difference. And, there is no doubt that a trigger man might help the Pens fix their simply inexcuseable power play performance to date.
BUT a goal scoring winger will NOT help the Penguins keep the puck out of their own net. And that is a problem a lot of folks seem to be overlooking.
Through 55 games this season the Penguins have these numbers:
GF = 167
GA = 168
GFA = 3.036
GAA = 3.054
Through 82 games last year the Penguins had these numbers:
GF = 247
GA = 216
GFA = 3.012
GAA = 2.634
3.054 and 2.634 - those are the important numbers here (we are actually scoring at about the same rate as last year!).
The .4 goals per game difference in goals against has definitely hurt this club.
.4 is such a small number, but over the course of a season it amounts to a difference of about 33 goals. A lot of wins can be turned into loses through 33 goals against.
I guess seeing these numbers just confirms for me the notion that I have had all season...we simply are not as good, as a team, at keeping other teams from putting the puck ON and IN our net this year.
We have seen it in the offensive zone - where once we were a good forechecking and cycling team, now we seem to get one chance and then the puck goes the other way.
We have seen it in our own zone - with players losing track of their defensive responsiiblities far more often than last year. Opponents left alone in the crease or moving freely through scoring areas.
We have seen it with goaltending that, although not "BAD", has not lived up to the standard that was set last season. Save percentages are down. Our back-up goaltending has not even been close to last year and Fleury has not really found the "zone" he lived in through the last 20 games or so of last season.
Right now I would argue that these things...which result in a goals against increase like we have seen...are BY FAR the reason we are "on the outside looking in" at the playoff picture with 28 games left in the season.
In a complete "about face"...well not really, we still need to stop other teams from scoring against us...
Read a rumor about the Pens and Antropov...this is interesting...he's got serious size, some decent speed and goal scoring ability...might be had for "cheap" (draft picks or lower level players)...might work nicely on Sids wing (although why do I get the feeling he would end up with Malkin?)... I am curious to see if this goes anywhere...