Penguins still learning to fly
I caught the tail end of the Islanders’ 6-5 win over Pittsburgh today, and I don’t know if it was due to the fact it was a President’s Day matinée, but it sure was a nutty contest. Eleven goals in all, including a Ryan Malone hat trick (his second against the Islanders this season) and four assists from Sidney Crosby, who was the subject of a nice shadow job by Trent Hunter all game long.
Well-travelled veteran Mike Sillinger ended the scorefest with a tally of his own with just 29 seconds remaining in the game, a goal that saw defenceman Mark Eaton screen netminder Marc-Andre Fleury while Sillinger’s flutter puck beat him glove side.
And while the Penguins have been uber-impressive the past few weeks, with a 14-0-2 record in the 16 games leading up to today’s match, the fact that Eaton was on the ice for the end of a tie game tells you all you need to know about where Pittsburgh’s at in their development process.
The most troubling thing for the Penguins should be that, while they were winning, in their most recent games the opposition has been able to pot more than their fair share of biscuits. Fleury has allowed four goals or more in his past five starts, something that’s been attributable as much to his poor play as to the fact the likes of Rob Scuderi and Josef Melichar are playing 20+ minutes a night.
Defencemen are going to be in high demand prior to next week’s trade deadline, and you have to think Penguins GM Ray Shero has his eye on one or two if he envisions any kind of playoff succes.
But the question is: Do you try and make a run now when this team is so obviously built for the future?
It’s a tough call, but given the way they’re currently constructed, I can’t see Pittsburgh amounting to much come May.
- No one is talking about the Islanders, but their makeshift lineup looked surprisingly adept today. Coach Ted Nolan dealt huge minutes to Tom Poti, Brendan Witt and newcomer Marc-Andre Bergeron, and all played reasonably well (with MAB clocking in at +2 in his first game as an Isle).
It’s sort of a ragtag group with Alexei Yashin and Radek Martinek out of the lineup, but they play well as a team and will outwork anyone in the Eastern Conference.