The Pittsburgh Penguins lost once again on Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres by a final score of 2-1. Pittsburgh is in the midst of a three-game losing streak, but there are a lot of deficiencies on this roster.
I thought about this deeply and hard last night. I am usually optimistic about season turnarounds, but I don’t think it is going to happen this year. The championship window in the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin/Kris Letang era is officially closed. The playoff streak is in major jeopardy. They haven’t missed the playoffs since 2005-2006 and there is a great chance they miss it this year.
I always like head coach Mike Sullivan to turn things around, but he is hopeless with this current roster and it isn’t his fault. The majority of the blame falls on general manager Ron Hextall and president of hockey operations Brian Burke. Hextall is just sitting there doing nothing with his hands over his head and sitting back with his feet on the desk watching this franchise burn into the ground while secretly working for the Philadelphia Flyers.
With new ownership on the horizon, I wonder if they will be safe. The Fenway Sports Group will be buying the team for $900 million. Mario Lemieux gets to stay as a minority owner and Ron Burkle is officially out and this deal could be potentially closed as early as Thursday.
It appears as if Sullivan and the core three won’t be going anywhere, but everybody else? They are hanging in the balance.
According to various reports, this new ownership wants to spend money and not focus on a long rebuild. This team does need to rebuild but they need to do it for a 1-2 year span.
The biggest reason why this team will miss the playoffs this year is because of the Metropolitan Division toughness and Eastern Conference toughness.
Here are the current standings in the Metropolitan Division:
1. Carolina Hurricanes (12-2-0 record, 24 points)
2. Washington Capitals (9-2-5 record, 23 points)
3. New York Rangers (10-3-3 record, 23 points)
4. Philadelphia Flyers (8-4-2 record, 18 points)
5. New Jersey Devils (7-4-3 record, 17 points)
6. Columbus Blue Jackets (8-5-0 record, 16 points)
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (5-6-4 record, 14 points)
8. New York Islanders (5-6-2 record, 12 points)
Pittsburgh is behind Carolina 10 points for first place and nine points behind Washington and New York for a second. I don’t think they will be able to catch them this year.
Dustin Tokarski finished with 45 saves for the Buffalo Sabres. The Pittsburgh Penguins make every goalie look like Andrei Vasilevskiy as of late.
Players that need to be traded at the trade deadline: Bryan Rust, Kasperi Kapanen, Mike Matheson, Marcus Pettersson, Jason ZuckThey er, and Brian Dumoulin.
This team can’t finish at all and lacks finishers. Jake Guentzel and Evan Rodrigues have been the two best forward and Tristan Jarry has been solid in net.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have dealt with COVID-19, chemistry, and injury issues this season. Sidney Crosby has barely played. Kris Letang has been their only good defense. Evgeni Malkin is projected to return from his injury in December and it may be too big of a hole for Pittsburgh to climb out of.
Losing Jared McCann, Brandon Tanev, and Cody Ceci this past offseason absolutely hurt the Pittsburgh Penguins big time. McCann and Tanev are now with the Seattle Kraken and Ceci is now with the Edmonton Oilers. All three of them are dearly missed in Pittsburgh with the Pittsburgh Penguins. They were the top team in the realigned East Division last season and they have not had the same juice this season.
Smile because they won three Stanley Cups in this era and smile because it happened. Don’t be sad it is over for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Their next game will be on the road on Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens (4-12-2 record, 10 points).
-Glenn Kaplan, 12oz Sports Contributor, Live Monday’s at 3 p.m. ET & Thursday at 11 a.m. ET on 12oz Sports
Photo Credit: Twitter @penguins