The Pittsburgh Penguins have definitely seen their fair share of struggles to start the 2017-18 season. For a team that has won back-to-back Stanley Cups, an 18-16-3 record, a -14 goal differential and currently one point ahead of Philadelphia for the last spot in the Metropolitan division is not what we expected. The Penguins have always been a high scoring team, where their defense and goaltending lacked, their offense would make up for it. This season the Penguins are sixteenth for goals for(103) and sixth for goals against(117). Their offense has certainly struggled a bit, but it is not something that should be of concern for the Penguins. But, as it seems the Penguins are saying they are looking to shop star defenseman Kris Letang for some scoring help.
Now, Letang has been no superstar this season he has 25 points in 37 contests, with a -15 rating, the last time Letang had a negative plus/minus in a full season was 2008-09. I’m not sure we can point fingers here and say it is the offense’s fault for the Penguins slow start, and I’m not sure Letang is the player they should be looking to move. Without Letang on the blue line, who is there to fill that void of 25 minutes plus per game. Ian Cole, Brian Dumoulin, Matt Hunwick, Oilli Maata? With Justin Schultz out, and not even playing well when in the lineup, the Penguins defense as a whole has been struggling. Breaking up this defense and adding a young prospect to the mix, may not be the answer right now.
The problem for Pittsburgh as many do not want to hear this, is Matt Murray is not playing well, and maybe he was better when he would split time and not have the workload of a full-time goaltender. On the year, Murray has started in 25 games, has a record of 13-10, with a 2.91 GAA(Goals Against Average), and a .906 save percentage. Right now Murray ranks 15th in wins, 24th in GAA, 20th in saves and to be honest is performing like a top 30 goaltender in the league. Which is not helping the Penguins. Possibly, shopping Letang is not the answer.
I mean, when we look at the Penguins offense, Phil Kessel(39 points in 37 games), Sidney Crosby(34 in 37 games) Evgeni Malkin(32 in 33 games). They all are almost producing at a point per game, but now if we look at the Penguins bottom six like Jake Guentzel, Connor Sheary, Carl Hagelin, these are the players that are not producing, nor helping out on the front end and doing their part. Geuntzel a player predicted to be within the top in the league has only 21 points in 37 games, Sheary has 14 points in 37 games and Hagelin has 6 points in 36 games. The depth scoring on this team has been lacking and, it should have been expected when the Penguins got rid of Chirs Kunitz, Matt Cullen, Nick Bonino. It also does not help the Penguins have dealt with injuries on the backend all season and have yet to get into a groove, on top of poor goaltending, plus not having a reliable back up has hurt the Penguins.
The Penguins issues, run deeper than their d-core or getting rid of Kris Letang. This happened the year the Penguins won the cup the first time in 2015-16, they struggled immensely going into the All-Star break and after the break, they came out flying, ran with that momentum into the playoffs and never looked back. All it takes for this team to get going is a win streak the Penguins longest win streak this season is four games. Once this team starts getting some depth scoring, Justin Schultz comes back, Matt Murray stops a beach ball, they will be fine and we’ll look back and say “wow, I think many of us were losing it”.