By Penguins, I mean the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are making me sad. The Pens are the one, true team in the NHL. I have it on good authority that Menoth cheers for the Penguins but inspite of that divine support, they just can't seem to put it together this season.
This is the team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals last year before losing the Cup to the Redwings in six games. They were incredible last year. This year has been a struggle.
After the 4-2 loss to the Canadiens last night, the Pens stand at 24-23-5 for a total of 53 points. The Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins have 80 points. The Pens are currently in 10th place in the conference. How many teams compete in the playoffs you ask? The top eight. What does this mean? It means that the team that went all the way to the Finals last season is in real danger of not even making the playoffs this season.
Granted, they have struggled with injuries. Ryan Whitney has only been back for a few weeks from a lower body injury and Sergei Gonchar has been out all season so far since undergoing shoulder surgery during the summer last year. Those two alone represent a deep slice into the Pen's defensive corps. Injuries to other players have also contributed. Isn't that what being a team is all about though? Overcoming the adversity? Figuring out a way to get it done in spite of the injuries?
There have been flashes of brilliance this season. When the Pens play to their potential they are among the absolute best in the NHL. Flashes of brilliance and occassional greatness don't bring the Cup home though. As cliched as it sounds, it is do or die time for the Pens. They start a 4 game homestand tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning, with Columbus, Detroit, and San Jose to follow. They have to come away with at least 5 points during this stretch of 4 games to have any shot at even making the playoffs