Not since Sidney Crosby's rookie season have the Pittsburgh Penguins found themselves in the position that they are in. Back then, however the Penguins were not expected to do well. They were in the midst of a financial crisis, had missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons (plus the lockout canceled season), and were on the brink of moving to Kansas City. So... at least none of that is happening now. Still, the sting of being on the brink of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-2006 season won't hurt any less. This raises the question... what the !@#$ happened?
RAY SHERO FIRED BY THE PENGUINS
|I trade draft picks faster than you can say "buyers remorse"|
JIM RUTHERFORD HIRED AS NEW GM
|I also don't see the need for draft picks|
DAN BYSLMA FIRED BY THE PENGUINS
|If only we had gotten to our game...|
MIKE JOHNSTON HIRED AS NEW HEAD COACH
|No, my name is not Babcock|
JAMES NEAL TRADED TO NASHVILLE
|The NHL's greatest bromance|
What is not apparent, however, is the effect on Evgeni Malkin who is once again going through linemates faster than I go through a box of Girl Scout cookies. Malkin, in 7 more games playedthis year than last, is 2 points off his last season point total of 72 and is only a +1 on the year compared to +10 in 2013-2014.
THE STEVE DOWNIE EXPERIMENT
|Yay! I am so excited to go back to the penalty box!|
PASCAL DUPUIS DIAGNOSED WITH BLOOD CLOT
|Get well soon|
IT'S MUMPS, IT'S MUMPS, THEY'RE IN YOUR HEAD
|Nope, this is not photoshopped|
TRADES, TRADES, AND MORE TRADES
|Good trade, unless it was for Connor McDavid|
The strangest trade was the trade of Simon Despres for former Penguin Ben Lovejoy. While I believe that Lovejoy is an upgrade over the younger Despres, at least for this season, given the age of Despres, it seems like the Pens could have gotten more and it makes you wonder if the coaching staff and front office had given up on Despres.
Most of the trades looked good on paper, but most of the players in return haven't really done all that much to stand out (Maxim Lapierre, Daniel Winnik, Ian Cole). Don't expect Lapierre, Winnik, or Cole back next season since their contracts are up at the end of the year.
A trade that never happened because of injuries this season was the impending trade of Paul Martin. At the beginning of the year, it was a virtual lock that Martin would be moved by the deadline given his expiring contract. However, with injuries to Olli Maata, Christian Ehrhoff (another off-season move that didn't work out), and Kris Letang, Martin has become vitally important to the Penguins blue line. Now I expect Martin to re-sign with Pittsburgh while Ehrhoff will leave via free agency.
SO... WHAT THE !@#$ HAPPENED HERE?
|Symbolism is fun!|
There have been bright spots, Fleury was playing at a Vezina caliber level for most of the year and Letang was a Norris trophy candidate (and still may be?) before his latest injury battle with concussions. What's most important, after all, is that with two games remaining, and with everything that I've gone over, the Penguins are currently in the playoffs and control their own destiny to get in. It just goes to show you how lucky we as Pens fans have been since 2007 that this is the first uh oh season in some time... and they still will probably wind up getting in the playoffs. What they do if they get in is anybody's guess.