The Pittsburgh Penguins have been on a roll over the last few weeks. They have been racking up the points on the scoreboard as well as building up a huge lead in the Metropolitan Division. As of Saturday, the Penguins have a 16-point lead in the division with the Washington Capitals as their closest competition. They also hold an eight-point lead over the Boston Bruins for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
The Penguins have been getting healthier in the process. Players like Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Rob Scuderi are back in the lineup which — besides missing Pascal Dupuis and Beau Bennett — means they have a relatively full lineup. However, over the past three games with Malkin and Letang returning to the lineup, the Penguins have let up 13 goals.
The bad defensive play finally caught up with the Pens against a bad Edmonton Oilers team. The Penguins had the lead in this game only to see it slip away. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, defenseman Rob Scuderi was asked if the Pens deserved to win this game and he responded by saying:
“Absolutely not. If you’re going to try and play hockey like the Harlem Globetrotters, you’re going to get burned. We continue to make the same mistakes, go for the same highlight reel plays.”
Since the return of Malkin and Letang, the Penguins seem to be trying to just put up a large number of goals and forget about focusing on team defense. This is unacceptable for a team that wants to make a push to the Stanley Cup.
Is the offensive talent of the Penguins going to be their undoing? Many fans were on local sports radio talk shows on Saturday morning demanding the trade of Letang. Many fans believe that Letang is too much of a hotshot and all he wants to do is play offense instead of staying home to play defense.
It is true. Letang makes many bad mistakes in his own zone. He tries to make the Globetrotter- type plays, but he is one of the best offensive-minded defensemen in the game.
What about Malkin? He makes many of the same mistakes and tries to make the plays that will get him on SportsCenter at night. Should he be traded?
No, neither one of these guys should be traded. Both of these players are so talented that when the Penguins get rolling they seem to push the offense at all times. Both Malkin and Letang need to just ground themselves and play simpler hockey in their own zone. Their play in the oppositions’ zone is unmatched. Once they lock it down defensively, this Penguins team will be very difficult to stop this season.