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Walshy’s World: Wings? Who Needs Wings, Penguins Are Flightless Birds Anyway!

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By Cameron Walsh

Over the course of the season we have heard many Pens fans lament the lack of a true scoring option for Sidney Crosby and to a lesser extent Evgeni Malkin. Many were hoping that during this free agency Ray Ray (for some unknown reason I like this…) was going to go out and get the Penguins the help the needed along the wings. However Mr. Sugar Ray Shero did notice one glaring problem that showed statistically at the end of the season, we have no problem putting the puck in the net, we just can’t keep it out.

Our goals for per game: 3.04 which ranks us 5th in the league. Not too shabby for a team that is supposed to be fully grinders down the flanks.

Our goals against per game: 2.87 which ranks us 20th in the league. Ottawa was the next closest playoff team ranked at 18 with 2.84 GAA, and we can’t say that Ottawa was really expecting to go deep with that roster they had.

Billy Ray Cyrus went out and tightened up the back end of this Penguins team. He noticed the loss of a true shutdown defensive pair hurt this team a lot, Ray Shero (ok I have run out of names now) knew he was never going to be able to keep Rob Scuderi from the Cup team but I don’t think he thought losing the slow skating monolith that is Hal Gill would have hurt as much as it did.

You’re supposed to build from the goal out are you not? Well the Penguins have at least given their 2003 number 1 overall draft pick the best chance to succeed now. Getting a much deeper back 6 has helped with the names of Orpik, Letang, Martin, Michalek, sitting in the top four it feels a much deeper group than last year, even with the departure of Sergei Gonchar, and Mark Eaton, two mainstays of the Cup winning back 6.

In this salary cap era, we all know you can not go out and cover your flaws in the free agent market anymore; you just don’t fit into the cap. Ray Shero has stuck to his 3 center theory and left the wings a little bit weak in the scoring department. Shero has a nice crop of talent waiting in the wings (sorry no pun intended) to fill some of the holes left by the departing free agents.

Nick Johnson played a handful of games last season and did quite a nice job on Malkin’s wing. Mark Letestu can fill that number 3/4 center position when Bylsma decides to move one of the big 3 centers to the wing. Then there is the Eric Tangradi bonanza, I have this feeling that he is going to make the team out of camp. Not so much out of need, but just because he will. If he does, the Penguins suddenly are a lot stronger in a position that is considered a weakness

This Penguins team is young, it is time the Penguins used some of the youth on the farm, in fact under the cap it might be the only choice Ray Shero has at this point, and he always likes to have some wiggle room in his cap for injuries and trades later in the year.

Still the Emperor Penguin might be a bird with no wings, but it is a very proud bird none the less. This year I think we see the flightless birds soar again.

PS, I just realized I live closer to these things than all of you!

**Melbourne, Australia’s own Cameron Walsh is a personal trainer by trade, he owns and operates dLuxe Health and Fitness. Walshy is a life long hockey/NHL/Penguins fan and he will be chiming in from time to time on various injuries that pop up in and around this game that we all know and love. He also bears a striking resemblance to the USS Hal Gill… just saying…

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About Brian Metzer

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Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brian Metzer has been covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and National Hockey League since 2004. He is the host of Penguins Live Weekly, a show that airs Saturday mornings on 105.9 the X and iHeart Radio. He serves as the Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent for NHL Network Radio on SiriusXM, and is the NHL and Penguins correspondent for the Beaver County Times. Metzer is also a contributing writer for NHL.com and is the primary contributor for this site www.fromthepoint.com.

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10 Comments

  1. OneSmugPug

    July 14, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Oh Walshy, I just realized I live closer the Pittsburgh Penguins than you….

  2. Walshy

    July 15, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Hey now you know that is not fair….

  3. OneSmugPug

    July 15, 2010 at 10:42 am

    You’ll learn eventually…..

  4. mag66

    July 15, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    this was a great article. its about time someone stops complaining about not getting some big free agent for the wings andsuggests we build from within – its something that has been a penguin and steeler standard. plus makes watching the baby pens that much more fun; to see the lil birds take flight(less)

  5. Kylie

    July 15, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    and Metz got this up on your bday Walshy

  6. Walshy

    July 15, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Who me? No way….

  7. Dirk

    July 15, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Totally agree, Sid and Malkin can carry the offensive load. They are two of the top 10 players in the world today, more like two of the top 5 in my opinion. If Martin and Michalek live up to the hype it should significantly cut our GA and hopefully help the Pens win a few more of the 1-0, 2-1 games you need now and then. Not getting a shutout as a team until soo late in the season was not a good thing from last year.

  8. Walshy

    July 15, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Thanks for the positive responses to the post people. Plus nice to see the same kind of feel on the roster, we need the puck outta the net, not behind Flower.

    Look out for posts more based on the fitness/injury side of things, that will be more my focus.

  9. joescul

    July 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    While i agree with your “building from the goal out” assessment, i have to kindly disagree with you on the wing situation. Myself, like you, believe we dont need a top 6 winger for Sid and/or Malkin, but we do need depth. Even if that means sigining a 15 year veteran like Billly G. or someone else. Based on our current roster situation, we are potentially going to have 3 players from Wilkes-Barre; (1) Lovejoy, (2) Tangredi and (3) Letestu. As excited as i am to see our future with these guys, it scares me that they will be relied on heavily. What if one of our studs, i.e. Malkin, Sid, Staal or Dupis gets injured for a significant period of time??? Who do we have to replace them?? We already have three baby pens players on the current roster, which means we would have to bring up a fourth and that, i definitely dont feel comfortable with…

  10. Walshy

    July 17, 2010 at 12:41 am

    You’re exactly right about the depth situation. But in the cap era who has great depth in all positions? I don’t think we are gaining to be able to fill out the wings with a worthwhile depth option against the cap space the will use up.

    If we end up with an extended injury to one of our big 3, we are in trouble but then again so is any team, so we are not alone there.

    If you can find a 10+ vet with leg speed Tajo will go for 1M I’ll take it, but it won’t happen, and that is what forces Shero’s hand with the youth