| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Rossi: Shero needs another deadline win to keep Pens in Cup hunt

Penguins/NHL Videos

Rob Rossi podcasts

  • Loading...
Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010

Three names to think about before anybody buries the Stanley Cup champions: Gary Roberts, Marian Hossa and Bill Guerin.

General manager Ray Shero acquired those players at the last three NHL trade deadlines, and each acquisition greatly improved the Penguins. Roberts' veteran savvy and toughness steeled a young club to finish its playoff push. Hossa teamed with center Sidney Crosby to help steer the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final, and Guerin's leadership and guile helped Crosby captain them to the Cup last year.

The Penguins, regulation losers in 10 of their past 16, will play 11 games before the NHL trade deadline March 3. Shero will have near $1 million in pro-rated cap space to improve. He might need every last dime to give his champs a shot at repeating.

A deeper look at the Penguins season to date reveals four legitimate concerns beyond their struggles from the last month:


A defending champion can be forgiven for not treating every regular-season game like a Game 7. Still, the Penguins have lost at home to Minnesota, Carolina and Toronto, and were downed at Florida, Tampa Bay and Minnesota. Chances are four of those five teams will miss the playoffs, and Carolina and Toronto will contend for the worst record.


The power play that has hovered around 15 percent all season has many problems, but one that must be addressed is finding a net-front presence. Since traffic-causing winger Ryan Malone was traded in July 2008 the Penguins have scored 96 power-play goals in 134 games. They netted 77 in Malone's final season.


Centers Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal combine to count for 59.1 percent of roughly $32 million the Penguins have designated for forwards against the $56.8 million salary cap. Crosby, Malkin and Staal have combined to score 46 percent of the Penguins' 137 goals from forwards, compared to only 40.7 percent last season. The Penguins' biggest advantage — three elite centers — seemingly will need to carry them this season even more than last if a Cup run is in the cards.


The Penguins have played 15 games against teams I'd label Cup contenders, but I'll throw out a loss at Vancouver given their goaltending situation in that contest. However, they are 5-8-1 against New Jersey (0-3), Philadelphia (3-1), Buffalo (1-1), Chicago (0-0-1), San Jose (0-1), Boston (1-1) and Washington (0-1).




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Penguins

  1. Penguins missing Martin, Ehrhoff, Adams; prized prospect Pouliot called up
  2. Penguins notebook: Kunitz ‘really close’ to return
  3. Penguins’ Maatta to seek second opinion for shoulder
  4. Fleury’s career-best 6th shutout lifts Penguins over Avalanche in overtime
  5. Penguins notebook: Zatkoff returns to team as Fleury’s backup
  6. With 3 more players possibly affected, Pens’ mumps fight escalates
  7. Penguins defenseman Letang having best season in new system
  8. Penguins continue to thrive, despite spate of ailments
  9. Rust, Dumoulin score 1st NHL goals in Penguins’ 4-2 victory over Lightning
  10. Penguins notebook: Players back team doctors in mumps aftermath
  11. Penguins notebook: Kunitz tests foot by skating during practice
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.