Without Their Offense, the Penguins can't Keep up with the Islanders
By Patrick Hoffman
There is no doubt that the Pittsburgh Penguins have been the perfect role model for other NHL clubs over the last several years.
They've drafted well, they've been able to find players that fit their system, and they've been run like a well-oiled machine. You put all of these things together and you end up with back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.
Fast forward to now and the Penguins are one loss away from being knocked out in the first round of the postseason by the New York Islanders. Heck, if they lose Game 4 on Tuesday night, April 16, that means they would have been swept, something this franchise is not used to.
The Penguins are in this position because they cannot find the back of the net. As of this writing (April 15) the team has scored just five goals in three games and cannot seem to find a way to create the offense they are used to creating in the regular season.
The team's best player and captain, Sidney Crosby, seems to have disappeared. He currently (April 15) has no points and is a -3.
When your team's best player is not producing, it makes it hard for other guys to get on board. Right now (April 15), the team's leading scorer in the postseason, Evgeni Malkin, has just three points.
The team's other big guns also haven't come through. Guys like Phil Kessel (two points), Kris Letang (one point) Patric Hornqvist (0 points), and Jake Guentzel (0 points) have not been able to generate any kind of offense for this team.
This is a team that relies on their offense to win hockey games, especially in the playoffs. When you take that a way, you have a team that is very beatable.
Speaking of beatable, the team's netminder, Matt Murray also has not been at his best.
He has not won a game and currently has a 3.33 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage.
While Murray does not deserve a lot of the blame for the Penguins' struggles in this year's playoffs, he certainly has not helped much. If the team's offense is not going to score goals, then he needs to be on top of his game and do whatever he can to keep it close until his team's offense wakes up.
The only way this team is going to get back into this series and make the climb up the very steep come back mountain, they are going to need their offense to kick it into high gear. If they can't do that, they'll be hitting the golf course in April for the first time in a long time.
Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.