This is getting bad. Not "write off the season, we're done" sort of bad, but still pretty bad. Normally in these situations there is an up-and-coming minor leaguer that Ray Shero keeps a "break in case of emergency" label on, but sadly the WBS squad is all tapped out. Eric Tangradi would in all likelihood be that guy, and we've already seen what he's been able to contribute over the past few seasons.
Pittsburgh's 5-1 loss to Ottawa Tuesday night marks the team's fifth straight loss - the longest of the season - and drops them into fourth place in the Atlantic Division.
Admittedly the one good thing to come of this whole situation is the fact that Pittsburgh fans, by nature, are smart enough to pinpoint what the problem is. By that I mean, it's pretty obvious injuries are absolutely destroying this team right now and thankfully a guy like Dan Bylsma is not seen as a reason for the drought. In a way you have to applaud him for still managing to put together a decent squad night in and night out given the depleted staff he has to work with.
With that said, the Penguins' biggest issue is on defense. They're not allowing all that many shots but the shots sure are finding their way through and past Marc-Andre Fleury. Or Brent Johnson. Or, in tonight's case, both.
Kudos to James Neal for putting in a valiant effort. The other day reports suggested he would be out "weeks" with an apparent foot injury, but it didn't stop him from lacing up his skates and giving it a go. Almost lost in all this "woe is me" flow of play as of late is Evgeni Malkin, who has scored two goals over the last two games and remains in the hunt for the league's scoring title with 45 points.
Things don't get much better for the Penguins as they prepare to take on the Capitals Wednesday night. Verizon Center has been a notoriously tough place for the Pens to play and this meeting couldn't come at a worse time. Or, perhaps, it couldn't come at a better time. Beating a team like the Capitals, no matter how much they've struggled this season, could help light a spark under this mangled, disjointed group of players sporting the black and gold.
In years past we've always said .500 hockey is all you can pray for when the injuries start to rack up. At this point, that's sadly all we can hang our hats on if we want to see postseason hockey.