The Pittsburgh Penguins (14-10-2, 30 points) are off to a 1-2 start in December as they close their four-game road trip Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche (12-15-1, 25 points) at the Pepsi Center. Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Company are 6-6-1 so far this season away from CONSOL Energy Center.
The Black and Gold are four games over .500 but are in fifth place in the Metropolitan Division of the National Hockey League’s Eastern Conference. The Pens are one point behind the fourth-place New Jersey Devils (14-10-3. 31 points). If the quest for the Stanley Cup started today, that one point difference would be enough to keep the Penguins out of the Eastern Conference playoff pairings.
The good news for Pittsburgh fans is head coach Mike Johnston’s crew is 24th in the league in allowing 2.35 goals-per-game. Thank you very much, Marc-Andre Fleury. I would submit that goaltending coach Mike Bales is the team’s best coach on the staff. They are ninth in the NHL in penalty kill percentage at 83.0.
However, the less-than-cheery news is the Penguins are 26th in scoring with 2.31 goals-per-game. They are 24th in the league in power play percentage at 16.30. This squad is in desperate need to flip the switch, in my opinion, and reel off a five-to-nine game winning streak.
Time to take our mouse in hand and click to see how the experts around the internet are ranking the Penguins this week.
FOX Sports – This Week: #16 / Last Week: #14 – Tommy Chalk points out that while the Penguins have lost four of their last five match-ups, Crosby appears to be playing better with five points over that same stretch of contests.
Bleacher Report – This Week: #14 / Last Week: #14 – Jonathan Willis has the Penguins holding steady as they try to battle out of their current slump in the standings.
CBSSports – This Week: #13 / Last Week: #11 – Chris Peters joins the chorus of concern on general manager Jim Rutherford’s recent comments about Johnston’s lineup decisions.
ESPN – This Week: #17 / Last Week: #15 – Joe McDonald dropped the Pens two notches over their start to the month of December. Nobody wants to cut the Penguins any slack at the moment.
OddsShark.com – This Week #16 / Last Week #7 – The computer did its calculations at the beginning of the week and has Pittsburgh falling nine spots in their survey. I promise there was no hacking involved here.
USA Today – The Jeff Sagarin Ratings as of Monday, Dec. 7 has the Penguins just outside the Top 10 in 11th place. It is the highest ranking Pittsburgh owns at the moment.
Do you concur with the Penguins place in the ratings? Are the pundits correct or should Pittsburgh be ranked higher or lower? You have the last say with your thoughts in the comments section down below.