Sunday, January 8, 2012

Neal Breaks Foot, Staal Out 4-6 Weeks. What's Next?

Well, just when you think things can't get much worse, they do. Around lunch time today we learned that James Neal will be out "weeks" with a broken foot and Jordan Staal will be out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury he sustained on Friday night against the Rangers. Also heard over the twitterverse is that Craig Adams was banged up in practice with a knee injury and from those that were at practice it didn’t look good.

The Neal injury was really a surprise. He was having a breakout year after struggling with the Penguins last season and he was one of the main offensive threats along with Evgeni Malkin but right now at best you can expect Neal back in three weeks. Neal has 21 goals and 36 points this year and a team-high 10 power play goals and 165 shots. Staal is the Penguins do-it-all guy and a huge guy on the PK. He has been having a great year goal scoring wise with 15 and 21 points in over 20 minutes of ice time a game. No idea. Adams might not show up on the score sheet a lot but that doesn’t mean he can’t make an impact. He is the grinder that works in Disco’s system and a great all around player who has three goals and five assists so far this year.

What can you expect from here? Well right now you have to bring up probably an entire line from WBS. For a team that is fighting for a playoff spot halfway through the season it is going to be amazingly hard to get into the playoffs when injuries like this keep happening. You are looking at a second line of Dupuis, Cooke and Kennedy and I don’t even know what to think.

Some people are talking about Ray Shero making a trade to try and sure things up but I am not sure that is the answer. This is not a Stanley Cup team and with the uncertainty of Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang you just can’t expect them to make that Cup run by bringing in a piece or two. You just have to hope that the Penguins can ride the storm out for a while and hopefully a handful of these guys can come back at once and make a run at a playoff spot. I do think that Shero can make some deals but I can’t imagine them giving up a lot trying to go for broke on a big name player, it just doesn’t make sense. Giving away a ton of substance for a big gun for one year when half your team is hurt just isn’t good in my opinion and I am sure Shero understands that too. This team is pretty young and still amazingly talented. If this was an older team you could push this idea but it just doesn’t make sense now.

What these injuries do is give Eric Tangradi a shot to show that he can be a capable NHL caliber player. I don’t really think that the Penguins and Tangradi see eye-to-eye and I just don’t think he is a great fit for the Penguins system. He has played in 20 games in his NHL career and has three points (1+2) and hasn’t been able to show me anything on why he should stick on the roster. He has a lot of potential but that doesn’t score goals and that won’t keep you in the NHL. This might be his last chance to prove to people in the Penguins organization that he should stick on this team/organization and if he fails I think that he could be gone by the deadline. While he has only played 20 games total I think he is going to be up for much of the next month so this will be the extended time where he can showcase his talents.

Another thing that is going to be interesting to follow is the Sidney Crosby situation and how quickly he can come back, or if he is going to be back this season. There seems to be some divide among people who think the Penguins have done a bad job of keeping people informed about Crosby’s situation and how close he may be. I have to disagree with that notion and for the people that say the Penguins owe it to the fans I would ask, why? As Rich from This is Getting Old said on twitter the only thing that the Penguins owe the fans is the product on the ice. Nothing else. Telling the fans any progress on the injury situation really doesn’t change anything or make the injury heal quicker so what is the point? Rick from the Pensblog also made a great point when he said that if the Penguins are giving up all this information for the fans what is to say that rival GM’s, who he might be trying to deal with, won’t take advantage of that and take advantage of it? The fans are owed nothing by the franchise. All I want is wins and however they take care of business is good by me. They are pretty good at it.

What say you? Leave it in the comments.

Here We Go Steelers.

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