The Penguins backs are against the wall. Their playoff odds per MoneyPuck are down to 47.2% after being at 96.1% earlier last week. There is no room for error at this point. There are no style points. There’s no taking positives away from completely outplaying another team and losing like they did last night. There’s no excuse for only putting one goal on Dylan Fergusson who was making his first career start. They don’t have the runway left for slip ups. It is a situation they earned. It is now more probable the Penguins will miss the playoffs for the first time ever since both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin started playing together. It is a streak that has reached 16 years.
Here’s the current landscape
They are still in the thick of things. They aren’t the Senators trying to chase six points this late in the season. They have a couple tough games coming up, but they finish the season with three very gettable games
It is beyond disappointing for Crosby, Malkin, and Letang to be playing the way they are (only accounting for 20.9M on the cap) and having this many holes in the lineup. The defense has a surplus of injuries at the moment, sure. Unfortunately, even when healthy is still valid even if team was completely healthy.
The Penguins big addition was getting Mikael Granlund and his two additional years at a 5M cap hit with no retention. He has two points in nine games. His even-strength production in recent years showed a player unable to create in that game state. It cost the Penguins a second round pick.
Jakub Vrana, who was there for the taking, is now up to five goals and six points in seven games with the Blues. It cost St. Louis a 7th round pick and they got 50% of Vrana’s contract retained. He has another year at 2.6M.
The paths Hextall has chosen and the paths he has ignored have greatly hurt the team.
My best advice is to enjoy the legacy players. The wins and losses will be what they are. The expectations should be muted. The hope for the offseason hangs in the balance with what ownership does. They have arrived at purgatory ahead of schedule.
Thanks for reading!