Philly Sports Live

What We Learned: Why the Penguins are in trouble (Puck Daddy)

(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it. The Penguins didn’t win yesterday, but don’t blame Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. In fact, never blame them for anything ever again. It’s obviously a bit facile to say, “Oh, Evgeni Malkin coming back? That’s going to be huge for the Penguins.” But the extent to which it is huge is actually kind of surprising in just how huge it is. The Penguins’ depth problems have long been obvious to everyone paying even the remotest of attention to their situation the last two seasons (and that’s even after Jim Rutherford having taken serious steps to address that issue this summer). On some level it’s always going to be an issue because you have to play two of the three or four best centers in the world commensurate to their skills, and those two deals alone eat up a lot of cap space as a result. Add in a few other big deals — deserved or not — on the Penguins roster and you arrive at a team that suffers greatly when Malkin and Sidney Crosby are not on the ice. The good news for Pittsburgh is that they are on the ice for about two-thirds of any given Penguins game. At least, those in which they both appear. The problem, then, is that Malkin and Crosby have missed a combined 42 games for Pittsburgh in the last two seasons, though fortunately with very little overlap. Crosby has missed seven games, Malkin missed 35, and both at the same time missed just three. They’re 16-17-2 without Malkin, 9-7-0 without Crosby, and 2-0-1 with neither over the last two seasons. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially because they are dramatically outscored sans Malkin (minus-19 at 5-on-5) and either marginally ahead (plus-2) or even when Crosby or neither are in the lineup, respectively. That they should be getting so many points from those games is a little surprising. In terms of the absolute basics beyond wins and losses, both Crosby and Malkin have relative corsi and goal numbers in the double digits, meaning that when the game is played at 5-on-5, the Penguins are genuinely much, much worse when neither star on the ice. This stands to reason, and it’s not necessarily an indictment of the team as a whole, even if the majority of the roster isn’t good. Again, both play a ton and both are elite drivers of possession and scoring numbers, so to not measure up, or perhaps even come close, isn’t really that much of a surprise, even if the other is on the ice for about half the other minutes available; in a lot of cases you’re playing one-third of the game with stop-gap players at best.

What We Learned: Why the Penguins are in trouble (Puck Daddy)

(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it. The Penguins didn’t win yesterday, but don’t blame Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. In fact, never blame them for anything ever again. It’s obviously a bit facile to say, “Oh, Evgeni Malkin coming back? That’s going to be huge for the Penguins.” But the extent to which it is huge is actually kind of surprising in just how huge it is. The Penguins’ depth problems have long been obvious to everyone paying even the remotest of attention to their situation the last two seasons (and that’s even after Jim Rutherford having taken serious steps to address that issue this summer). On some level it’s always going to be an issue because you have to play two of the three or four best centers in the world commensurate to their skills, and those two deals alone eat up a lot of cap space as a result. Add in a few other big deals — deserved or not — on the Penguins roster and you arrive at a team that suffers greatly when Malkin and Sidney Crosby are not on the ice. The good news for Pittsburgh is that they are on the ice for about two-thirds of any given Penguins game. At least, those in which they both appear. The problem, then, is that Malkin and Crosby have missed a combined 42 games for Pittsburgh in the last two seasons, though fortunately with very little overlap. Crosby has missed seven games, Malkin missed 35, and both at the same time missed just three. They’re 16-17-2 without Malkin, 9-7-0 without Crosby, and 2-0-1 with neither over the last two seasons. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially because they are dramatically outscored sans Malkin (minus-19 at 5-on-5) and either marginally ahead (plus-2) or even when Crosby or neither are in the lineup, respectively. That they should be getting so many points from those games is a little surprising. In terms of the absolute basics beyond wins and losses, both Crosby and Malkin have relative corsi and goal numbers in the double digits, meaning that when the game is played at 5-on-5, the Penguins are genuinely much, much worse when neither star on the ice. This stands to reason, and it’s not necessarily an indictment of the team as a whole, even if the majority of the roster isn’t good. Again, both play a ton and both are elite drivers of possession and scoring numbers, so to not measure up, or perhaps even come close, isn’t really that much of a surprise, even if the other is on the ice for about half the other minutes available; in a lot of cases you’re playing one-third of the game with stop-gap players at best.