It’s almost time to rage against the machine, to assess with vengeance which Penguins ought to be traded, fired or beaten with a bag of hammers.
While doing so, don’t forget the general manager.
Ray Shero was lauded for landing Jarome Iginla, Jussi Jokinen, Brenden Morrow and Douglass Murray without subtracting from the major-league roster. I know because I was one of those doing the lauding.
But the transactions haven’t worked out the way they did initially, the way the Pens envisioned.
In Game 3 against Boston the new guys were deployed as follows:
Iginla was a third-line winger.
Morrow was a fourth-line winger.
Jokinen was in the press box.
Murray was the Pens’ least-relied-upon defenseman (he played 17:08 in a game that lasted 95:19).
And a guy Shero didn’t have enough interest in signing a year ago, Jaromir Jagr, wound up stealing the puck from Evgeni Malkin on what became the game-winning goal.
This isn’t to suggest Shero should be fired; far from it.
The point is the Penguins are culpable as a team, as an organization, for finding themselves on the brink of elimination while still looking for victory No. 1 in The
Eastern Conference Final against Boston. That’s on the players, the coaches and the front office.
Perspective needs to be maintained if and when they’re eventually eliminated.
Let’s assume for a moment that’ll happen at some point against Boston.
That would still leave only the Bruins and Blackhawks as teams that have played in more playoff series than the Penguins since the beginning of the 2009 postseason,
when the Pens eventually captured the franchise’s third Stanly Cup (the Pens have played in 11 best-of-sevens since then; a Boston-Chicago Stanley Cup Final would be the 13th series since 2009 for the both the Bruins and Blackhawks).
The Pens are also in their second conference final since 2009.
Only Chicago, with three, has more in that span.
Is that good enough for the Penguins in terms of what they expect, what they demand from themselves? No.
But it’s still better than almost the entire rest of the league since 2009.
The Pens aspire to do even better. And toward that end they need to figure out why they’re not getting what they think they should from all they’ve had going for them in terms of on-ice talent, coaching expertise, facilities, payroll, front-office acumen, fan support and commitment from ownership.
In doing so it would be a mistake to blow it all up and start over.
Changes will be forthcoming, as they are each and every offseason.
But they should be made in search of arriving at answers rather than identifying scapegoats.
Getting emotional about it would at best complicate and at worst compromise that critical process.