December 15, 2012
With Saturday's deflating 4-0 loss to Syracuse, the Penguins have run their winless streak to five games. They went 0-for-5 on the power play and generated just 14 shots after two periods - not the kind of offensive effort you'd expect from a team looking to rebound from a tough 3-1 loss to Binghamton the night before.
Talking to Warren Peters after Friday's loss, he didn't mince words when he said the offense has to start producing. And he didn't necessarily mean goals, but rather scoring chances. Simply put, if the Penguins generate plenty of scoring chances, the goals will come.
They didn't do that on Saturday, but I expect the lack of offense, and the winless streak, to turnaround in the near future with the return of Simon Despres and Jeff Zatkoff.
Judging by what head coach John Hynes said in practice this week, Despres could be close, and that's a good thing. Along with Dylan Reese, Despres is an anchor of the Penguins' defense and he is a viable offensive threat who, even when he doesn't score he puts opponents on their heels.
Zatkoff has been stellar in goal for most of the season. While Brad Thiessen has done a decent job filling in, Zatkoff is the one to lock things down in net and stabilize the defensive zone.
Despres and Zatkoff have both missed the last four games and the Penguins have lost their last five.
When they return, so will the Penguins' winning ways.
- One other thing about the Penguins lack of offense recently. While their top forwards are healthy, they've been without the likes of Tom Kuhnhackl and Keven Veilleux due to injuries, and even Paul Thompson has been a healthy scratch once during the last five games. While they may not be the top point producers on the team, they are all guys who can chip in goals here and there, giving the Penguins some much-needed scoring depth.