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Pittsburgh, PA • United States • 48 Years Old • Male
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...
Filed Under:   trade   pens   playoffs   goaltending   defense   winger   rumors  
February 11, 2009 10:21 AM ET | Delete
Getting Antropov on the cheap would mean anything that is not a first round pick... despite what Burke says, Antropov is in the top echelon of available forwards and the Leafs will be compensated accordingly. If one were to look at reasoning behind Burke's comments it could be to temporarily drive the price down so at least there will be the basis of discussions with several teams by the trade deadline frenzy.
February 11, 2009 12:17 PM ET | Delete
For the record Icedog, I have said that getting some defensive help is a definite priority. That is why I have been on the J Bo wagon...he would go a long way toward assisting their defensive zone play. Gotta clear the front of the net, especially when the goaltending has been serving up rebers! Those second, third and fourth opps are killing them...However, you have got to admit that they need to address the wing depth as well...they need top six help bad. Though they would have won a lot more games this season if they could have cleared the friggin puck and gotten a better transition working... B
February 11, 2009 1:13 PM ET | Delete
Metz - Yes...we definitely need to address the wings. I look at it kind of like this...we are not in the playoff picture right now because of our defensive play AND we probably can't win the cup this year, if we do make the playoffs, unless we improve our offensive players. When you think about last year's totals, Hossa was almost a non-factor in the regular season - he only played in 12 games. He certainly was needed for the cup run...but to get to the playoffs we were simply a better team defensively.
February 12, 2009 1:10 PM ET | Delete
agreed IceDog.....which is why the Pens MUST trade one of the plethora of young offensive minded defenseman with "potential" that they have and bring in more guys who are able to clear out the front of the net. That would at least cut down on the number of rebounds that end up in the net. Personally, I would LOVE to see Whitney traded. I think he holds the most market value, and for those of us who watch him play week in and week out, we know that his true value is suspect at best at this stage. Letang continues to improve his defensive game and Goligoski moves the puck at least as good as Whitney if not better. I would love to see Whitney and Miro moved for a big defenseman who isn't a complete mess with the puck like Gill.....that said, I think J Bo is way too expensive, especially if we also plan on adding this phantom finisher as well. And whats with the Colby rumors? Do we really need another 3rd line grinder?
February 13, 2009 4:30 AM ET | Delete
I agree 100% with what you're saying icedog, but I disagree that J Bo is the answer. If we're going to add a player with any offensive flair they can't be a -21 plus/minus for their career. J Bo is a great puck moving blueliner and I can just imagine the PP with Crosby, Malkin and (insert winger here) down low cycling to open J Bo or Gonchar on the point or in the slot. But ultimately whatever deal Pittsburgh makes needs to involve players who have proven they can keep the puck out of the net. Either deal Garon for a better backup that can actually threaten Fleury (I here Martin Biron is available) or look for a hybrid defenseman that has just as much offensive touch as he does defensive. We can't rely on Eaton to fill that roll, and with Gonchar coming back Eaton will be splitting time with Scuderi, Gill, Orpik, Letang and Boucher on the second and third pairings. I say look at moving Whitney and Boucher for a top 6 power forward and call Goligoski back up to fill in the hole left by Whitney (seems like we gain something here).
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