Pittsburgh Penguins Are Ready; Mike Johnston Isn’t


Let me first start out by saying, I really like Mike Johnston. His system and coaching style have been a great fit with the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ personnel. However, there is something that is very concerning with the play of the Penguins. There has been a lack of resiliency among the lineup and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ established leaders are not motivating others. This places the job of motivating the team on first year head coach Mike Johnston. 

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So far, Johnston has not answered the call. The Pittsburgh Penguins as a whole have probably the most offensively talented squad in the league (when healthy). Stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are all among the best at their positions and have remained healthy. So what gives? Crosby and Malkin are in contention for leading the league in scoring and Letang is in the top five scoring defensemen.

Obviously any Penguins fan can tell you they have had to deal with an absurd amount of injuries to start the season. Yet, even as the lineup is (almost) healthy the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to struggle. The burden now lies on coach Mike Johnston to motivate and get the Penguins to play well consistently.

Jan 7, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) looks on against the Boston Bruins during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Boston won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It has been discussed before but my personal opinion is that the Penguins are lacking a true heart and soul player. Hopefully they can acquire one before the trade deadline to push the team to the next level. Mike Johnston can try to lead all he wants but without someone with skates on reinforcing the idea, it is useless.

Something else that needs to change is stop making Marc-Andre Fleury play so often. The Penguins brought in Thomas Greiss to backup Fleury and reduce his workload, so let him do that. Marc-Andre Fleury has played in 36 of the Penguins 46 contests. Fleury was among the league leaders in GAA and save percentage but his latest five games have dampened his statistics. In his last five Fleury has allowed 15 goals for a 3.00 GAA and had a save percentage of .889. The workload is wearing on “the Flower” more than anyone will admit.

The team is nearly healthy, Mike Johnston, it is time to push this team to the next level.