The Pittsburgh Penguins ended 2014 on a high note by snapping a four game losing streak with a win over the Carolina Hurricanes. That win carried them over into the new year with a win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The win streak stopped when the Montreal Canadiens came into Pittsburgh and won 4-1. The loss to Montreal reminded fans and media alike that the Penguins are a struggling team. They have been bitten by both the injury and illness bug, bites that have proven to be a true test of depth of the Penguins.
Professional sports teams are no strangers to injuries, it comes as part of the job. Injuries are a possibilities every time players take the field/court/ice and the same goes for illnesses. Players are humans like the fans that cheer them on every game, so they run the same risk to getting sick. What’s so different about what’s happening in Pittsburgh is how many players they have hurt and sick.
The Penguins have dealt with serious health issues like strokes, blood clots, cancerous tumors, and concussions. They have handled some of their players getting the mumps. They continued to play well and win when dealing with all of these health issues because they were only miss one or two players at a time.
Part of the reason the Penguins are struggling to string wins together is that they currently have seven players out with injuries that take weeks to recover from. Having such a high number of players out with injuries means that there are more players being called up from their American Hockey League team. It’s like a revolving door of players coming and going from Wilkes-Barre Scranton, which can make it difficult for players to connect on the ice and put the puck in the back of the net.
It’s not to say that the Penguins aren’t producing at a consistent level because of the injuries. They were actually playing well in the month of December, which was right in the thick of their recent bout with the injury/illness bug. They know as a team how to step up and produce wins, but sometimes losing so many players gets the best of a team.
So while the Penguins losing to Montreal last night is not completely because of the injuries that have taken over their team, it’s certainly a very good reason why the Penguins should be cut some slack. If they continue to lose when they have most of their players back from injuries, than we can talk about the problem with the Penguins.