Penguins disappointing

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:10 AM ET

The Pittsburgh Penguins are the most stunning story in the National Hockey League.

They were to be a new colossus, struck and built with ruthless speed.

In Mario Lemieux, they had the cream of the old guard. Lottery windfall Sidney Crosby represented the best of the new.

Instead, the Penguins have zero wins.They have lost four times in extra time, once by shootout, and four more times in regulation.

And other than tie the can to coach Ed Olczyk, they can make few personnel changes. Of late, the Pens haven't been close. They lost their past three games to the Tampa Lightning, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins by a combined margin of 15-7.

Expected to race to the league ceiling based on a lethal power play, the Penguins instead sit 15th in league scoring with the man advantage.

All this despite a superb performance from Crosby. The 18-year-old has delivered jaw-dropping plays all season. His 11 points in eight games puts him atop the rookie scoring leaders by one point over Washington Capitals rookie Alexander Ovechkin.

So what went wrong?

Well, let's start with age.

The Penguins gambled to retool with free-agent veterans including John LeClair, Mark Recchi, Sergei Gonchar, and Ziggy Palffy.

"Gonchar and some of the others aren't putting up the numbers," longtime Penguins executive Eddie Johnston said. "None of our big guys have."

The great Lemieux turned 40 the first night of the season and his amazing skills have diminished.

The Pens have been terrible in goal and have the league's worst goals-against average.

The Penguins, like many teams, have been burned by their desire to carry one-dimensional fighters. The club wasted two roster spots on Andre Roy and Ryan VandenBussche thinking there was still a place for fighting. Neither can play and the Penguins are behind the times.

If the Pens don't break the drought soon, Olczyk's status moves to critical.


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