Any team your team loses four games in a row there is going to be a mild sense of panic and concern. What went wrong? How do they fix it? How much trouble are they in? ARE THEY AS GOOD AS WE THINK?!
The thing is, though, it is nearly impossible to go through an 82-game season without some sort of stretch like this. Quite honestly, the Penguins were probably due for one of them. They had not had one all season, and before this recent four-game stretch they were on a 23-6-4 run since the start of December.
Add in some significant injuries and a slump was inevitable.
Probably the most frustrating thing about the past two games in Washington and Los Angeles is that they played well enough to win both games. They simply did not, and as diffficult as that is for us to sometimes grasp (there has to be a reason) it is the type of thing that just happens. Sometimes you just do not win the game.
All of that said, it is time to check in on the Penguins’ weekly stock report.
Who Is Up
Evgeni Malkin — He has been the one constant this season and has still been there for them during this recent losing streak, sometimes doing everything he can to carry the team on his own. He has points in three straight games (including a pair of multi-point games) and is still having one of the best offensive seasons of his career.
The Process — At least over the past two games. The games in Washington and Los Angeles looked like the type of tough luck games a good team loses just before they go on a winning streak. If they maintain that level of play going forward — especially as they get their defensemen back in the linup — they are going to win a hell of a lot of more games than they lose.
Who Is Down
Jack Johnson-Kris Letang pairing — At this point digging back into the number is just a pointless effort because everyone knows what they are. It is absolutely stunning that they will not try anything different here with the top pairing. Letang can not play with Johnson. Johnson can not play this many minutes. It is holding back everything. Get well soon, Brian Dumoulin.
Justin Schultz — I thought he actually played a pretty solid game on Wednesday in Los Angeles, but you can not get beyond this number: 0 points in more than 20 games. For an offensive defenseman, for a player that needs to produce offensively to be effective, that is not going to be anywhere near good enough.
Jared McCann’s luck — It has been more than a month since he scored a goal, and now he has to join the list of injured players. I still the former has more to do with bad luck than bad play (he is still generating shots, and his shot is good enough that some of them should be going in) and the latter is, well, simply the story of the Penguins’ season. It really is fitting that they add four forwards over the course of a couple of weeks to improve their depth, then lose another one of their forwards to injury as soon as the new players arrive.