Nothing is going right for Pittsburgh this season.
The team’s struggles have run deep this year. They’re 0-4-0 since firing coach Mike Johnston. Pascal Dupuis had to end his career due to a medical condition. Marc-Andre Fleury is out with a concussion. Olli Maatta missed significant time after being checked into an open bench door. Kris Letang has been out since December 9. They’re five points back from the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
And to cap it all off, they haven’t been very good when they’ve been healthy. Phil Kessel hasn’t been the boon they hoped for. Crosby started the season on a career-worst slump. Chris Kunitz went MIA for far too long. There really isn’t anyone this side of Evgeni Malkin whose production is where it should be.
It’s crazy to think that a team with Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, Kunitz, Letang, David Perron and Patric Hornqvist, not to mention solid center depth with Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen, is scoring the third fewest goals per game in the league.
But that’s where they stand.
While they’ve lost the the ninth fewest man-games to injury, they rank 13th in the league in injury impact to the team, according to Man Games Lost’s IIT-Skater metric. That hurts, but it’s cold comfort when they know how much they’ve struggled when they have had all their key pieces in the lineup.
The Penguins have just two more games before the holiday break, starting with a home game against the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.