Pittsburgh Penguins: Pre-Olympic Break Update
The Penguins have had an up and down season so far when it comes to injuries (and winning games as well for that matter).
Eric Godard was injured in the game against the New York Rangers and will be out 4-6 weeks. This leaves the Penguins without a true enforcer with which many fans might say “Who cares he only averaged 4 minutes a game anyways”. I will get into that more below. Chris Kunitz is still out with this abdominal injury and the Penguins have also just received the services of Marc-Andre Fleury back. Bill Guerin was out for a couple of games along with Tyler Kennedy and Max Talbot.
The Penguins have also had a difficult time with being consistent. Right when you think they are turning the corner into another long winning streak they decide to take a game off. The Penguins are definitely capable of playing with the best teams in the NHL but at this point they are just not showing the will power to play a full 60 minutes of hockey. They might have one or two good periods and then just take the next one off. This time of year, points are becoming more and more important and fought over. It is very important for the Penguins to string together some wins and make sure that they don’t fall too far back from New Jersey.
Going back to the Godard injury, as mentioned above many fans don’t believe losing Godard is a big deal. I would have to agree when it comes to winning games and ice time, however Godard is one of the few true enforcers left in the league. With him out, will we see more teams aiming for the two headed monster? Obviously there are players on the Pens squad willing to drop their gloves (Mike Rupp and Craig Adams), but are they going to help? Many people might argue that an enforcer is not relevant in today’s hockey game and I see both sides.
Luckily for the Penguins the Olympic break will help get some of these players healthy for the playoff run. My only fear is for those players playing in the Olympics (Crosby, Malkin, Gonchar, Fleury, and Orpik). Typically, we can expect less hitting in the Olympics due to the international rules which have the ice rinks bigger so that there is more ice to roam around. However, this years Olympics will have the ice rinks the same size as the NHL size ones which poses a very high possibility for some highly physical games.
This week has been a pretty slow one for the Pens as they only played Monday, Thursday, and now Sunday. Sunday’s game features a rematch of the Stanley Cup playoffs and to anyone who actually thinks this game is some kind of revenge game for Detroit they are mistaken. The regular season is nothing compared to the playoffs and regardless of who wins the game it does nothing for each team when it comes to last year. It will be interesting to see how the Pens come out to play against this beaten up Detroit team. The one thing about Detroit though, they have plenty of talent in their minor leagues and can replace players without much problem. Plus, Detroit is finally starting to get healthy again. I’m looking forward to a great game and hopefully we’ll see the Pens come out with two points.
Let’s Go Pens!