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Piling injuries and a cap-crunch making things less flexible has helped put the Pens in precarious position. They could clinch a playoff spot Tuesday night, but eight losses in their last 11 games has brought plenty of questions.
The concussion to Kris Letang and indefinite timeline for his return is among the most concerning injuries the Pens could have incurred this time of year. They've had to play with five defensemen and there's a lot of strain on Pittsburgh's healthy players before the playoffs even begin. Not good.
The Penguins really can really be confounding. They have five losses in their past seven games and at times have lost their composure. Injuries have played a role, but this team needs to tighten up for the postseason or risk another early exit.
Just when it looked like the Pens were getting healthy, Patric Hornqvist and Evgeni Malkin went down in the same weekend. Having lost three of their last four games and dealing with injuries, the Pens need to regroup as they hit a three-game stretch against non-playoff teams.
With six wins in their last eight games, the Penguins are finding consistency in both their scoring and on the defensive side of the game. A complaint about the Pens in recent years was that they weren't hard enough to play against. Sure looks like that's changing.
The Penguins made some interesting deals at the deadline, namely swapping Ben Lovejoy for Simon Despres. They also got depth defenseman Ian Cole and made a nice move to get Daniel Winnik earlier in the week. The balance on defense still seems questionable, though.
The Penguins have been up-and-down lately, but it appears Christian Ehrhoff will soon return to the lineup, bolstering a defense that has been holding its own without him. Plus, you never know what Jim Rutherford has planned for the deadline.
The Penguins remain a team to keep a close eye on as the trade deadline approaches. They are rumored to be seeking another forward and defenseman to add to the mix and they really could use both to fortify for the playoffs.
The Penguins have a golden opportunity to leap over the Islanders and gain some ground while they're without top winger Kyle Okposo, but they really haven't taken advantage with a 4-3-0 record over their last seven games.
The Pens are still right with the Islanders in the Metropolitan race, but injuries have exposed some of the team's weaknesses. GM Jim Rutherford may need to make another move to keep Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup conversation.
Preseason Power Rankings
The Pens haven't been perfect in their 2-0 start, but the offense is really clicking under new coach Mike Johnston, with nobody going better than Sidney Crosby.
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