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Defensemen weren't very good

The Sports Xchange

--The team's defensive problems have largely been blamed on defensemen Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin, both of whom were signed on July 1, 2010, to expensive contracts. Both have been busts, which is part of a legitimate problem for the Penguins: Their defensemen simply aren't very good right now.

Michalek and Martin lack any remnants of physical play and have been gigantic liabilities for the Penguins. Defenseman Brooks Orpik, the leader of the group, showed signs of age during the season and was particularly ineffective for the Penguins against the Flyers. He was on the ice for nine of Philadelphia's 12 power play goals. Even Kris Letang, universally considered one of the NHL's best defensemen, struggled against the Flyers. Only defensemen Matt Niskanen and Deryk Engelland looked comfortable in the playoff setting.

The Penguins have an enormous amount of young talent on the blue line in the organization. They need to either develop players like Simon Despres, Joe Morrow and Scott Harrington quickly, or make some major changes this summer.

--It will be interesting to see if the Penguins make any changes to their coaching staff this summer. General manager Ray Shero is already on record as saying coach Dan Bylsma's job is safe. However, it isn't known whether assistant coaches Tony Granato or Todd Reirden will be retained. Sources in the organization believe both assistants will stay in Pittsburgh, but someone figures to receive blame for the special teams fiasco that took place against the Flyers during the first round of the playoffs.

Philadelphia scored a remarkable 12 power-play goals against the Penguins. Granato runs the penalty killing unit. Of course, the reality that the Penguins finished No. 3 in the NHL on the penalty kill figures to help Granato with any job security heat he might be feeling. Reirden helps with running the power play, and it went seventh in the NHL this season, a fine number. Of course, that unit also allowed three shorthanded goals to the Flyers, all of which crippled the Penguins in losses.

"I wish I had some kind of an answer for what went wrong. But I really don't. We just weren't good enough. No one in this room expected this to happen. We had very high expectations, and all of a sudden, it's over." -- defenseman Matt Niskanen.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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