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Time running out on the Penguins

This team looks like they need a shakeup to get anywhere

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Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It’s seemed like 2 steps forward, 2 steps back for the Pittsburgh Penguins this season. Tuesday night they had one of their best and most satisfying games of the season when they dismantled the Flyers 5-1 on the road, at the end of a road trip. As has been so many times before, this could/would possibly be “turning the corner” to get things in gear.

Except, it wasn’t. Last night the Pens were embarrassed 4-0 by Carolina in an effort so lifeless they were resembled Bernie from Weekends with Bernie. (That’s a dead guy reference for you kids). what?

The clock is ticking and depending on what model you follow or believe in there could be a 19 - 46% chance that Pittsburgh can still make the playoffs, despite currently being 3 points out of the mix. (And those numbers have not been updated with the results of yesterday’s crushing loss!)

A check of the standings shows that in order to make the playoffs, the Pens must pass 2 out of the 3 teams in their division immediately ahead of them: the Rangers, Hurricanes and Islanders. There’s simply no way around it, and all the teams have points (and games in hand) on Pittsburgh at this moment.

And, what do you know, tonight’s game is against the Islanders! A Pittsburgh regulation win will hurdle them above NYI (though the New Yorkers have played 1 less game). Needless to say, it is a very important game and a regulation loss only deepens the hole that much further.

As has been an oft-repeated talking point here, if you fix want to fix the Penguins, fix Sidney Crosby.

This is the same guy who led the league in goal scoring last year. Something is very, very wrong. I would start with his linemates- Conor Sheary’s point scoring is way down this season (as is Jake Guentzel) and Crosby has frequently been having a rotating cast of wingers. Currently he has been with Dominik Simon (he of 12 career NHL games and 0 goals, 4 assists) and a rotation of Sheary, Guentzel, Patric Hornqvist.

Late last game Crosby played at times with Phil Kessel (whose style is oil/water with Crosby) and promising rookie Daniel Sprong. These moved seemed of desperation from the coaching staff, trying to find something, anything to make Crosby go.

Yet, for whatever reason and cast aspersion wherever you see fit, Crosby is not going this season. That must be general manager Jim Rutherford’s chief concern right now.

There are rumors that talented wingers in Evander Kane (BUF), Max Pacioretty (MTL) and Mike Hoffman (OTT) are on the trading block. The acquisition cost to bring any to Pittsburgh would likely be pretty high and involve a major roster shakeup.

Could Rutherford pull it off with limited trade ammunition? Is it even a smart gamble, especially for a player like Kane who is a free agent at the end of the season? Those are main the questions GMJR must consider and answer. We as fans will obviously see how he answers them based on his future actions.

But the one thing that is clear is that Pittsburgh’s season is fading fast and their brightest star looks totally confounded out there. If there’s any hope to salvage a 12th straight playoff berth in Pittsburgh, Rutherford had better act sooner than later.