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How is Sidney Crosby like a helicopter (Hint: no wings)

That Sidney Crosby has 46 even-strength points so far this season--second only to Evgeni Makin's 55--is nothing short of incredible.  The Penguins need Crosby to cook dinner but aren't supplying him with quality ingredients, to butcher (no pun) the old Bill Parcells saying.

The Penguins best winger is no winger at all really, it's obviously Malkin.  Michel Therrien used to mix and match using 87 and 71 on the same line but in the final months of his coaching stint Therrien leaned heavily on the two together.  And while Malkin wouldn't be a bad hockey player no matter where you line him up, it's not his strength.  Geno is a center and ought to be mainly out there as a center.  Come crunch time, when a goal is needed, sure throw the Mega Powers out there, but otherwise the "eggs in a basket" strategy isn't usually a good one. 

The best natural winger on the team is Petr Sykora (22 goals), but he rarely plays with Crosby at even strength due to being such a good match with Malkin.

That leaves Crosby to have frequent linemates like:

  • Pascal Dupuis has zero goals in his last 15 games
  • Tyler Kennedy has one goal (and no assists) in the last 11 games
  • self proclaimed "superstar" Max Talbot scored last night but has just three goals in his last 39 outings
  • Despite briefly getting hot in mid-January, Matt Cooke suddenly has just one goal in 11 games.  These grinders work and work, but the production simply isn't there, they're miscast as top-6 forwards.

With Dan Bylsma now making the calls, Miroslav Satan figures to play top 6 minutes with skill players for the first time recently.  Satan scored last night, his first goal in eight games.  Fans are understandably disappointed about Satan's lack of production, however the fact is, he can contribute.  Goal scorers are a streaky animal and if Satan can heat up and more importantly get some confidence in his game, he'll be more than the passenger he's been since about mid-December.

Interestingly up to December 18, Satan scored 12 goals in his first 31 games--which is a pace for a 32 goal season) and the Pens were 17-10-4.  In the last 28 games, Satan's scored just four goals and the Pens record is 11-15-2.  Obviously Satan's slump isn't the entire reason the Penguins are outside of the playoff picture, but you add all the little pieces up and it becomes one big problem.

Satan too has been most consistently lined up with Malkin, which won't help Crosby.  Plus it didn't look like Satan and Crosby meshed very well when they did play together at even strength.

Other than a trade, what's the Pens' options for Sid?  Keep throwing pluggers like Dupuis and Kennedy out there and hope Crosby can make magic happen?  Well, there is Ruslan Fedotenko.  In his last 20 games (dating back to December 4) 'Tank has seven goals and eight assists.  While not HHOF numbers or anything, they show a lot more production than what Crosby's had to work with from others.  And while Fedotenko is a good start, he's only one winger. 

Like it or not, until Ray Shero makes a trade to get a little more talent, Sidney Crosby is still going to be whirling around like a helicopter with a guy like Dupuis, Kennedy or Talbot on his flank.