The Pittsburgh Penguins took giant leaps this weekend in their effort to “turn their year around”. Friday night the Penguins gave the red hot Los Angeles Kings all they could handle, finally succumbing in a shootout to the Pacific Division leaders. In a fast paced, open game with lots of scoring chances, the only thing both teams didn’t do much was score goals. Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel in particular were buzzing and Kessel should basically retire after missing some of those chances, but it’s a great sign to see them freewheeling again much like I predicted in This Could Be The Night We Remember The Penguins. To keep the ball rolling, the very next day they fired head coach Mike Johnston. I’m not saying this is the wrong decision at all. IF the players were in fact consistently playing his systems properly then I don’t think those systems were a good fit for this team’s identity. Unfortunately for Johnston this move comes at a time when some of the problems were showing signs of sorting themselves out. I believe the real turnaround will prove to be the injury to Letang. With no true guy to rely on to get them the puck, the offensive superstars in Crosby, Kessel, Chris Kunitz, and Evgeni Malkin will do what they have to do. That is, play a stronger cycle possession game and move the puck more quickly north through the neutral zone instead of trying to make the exceptionally pretty but unreasonably risky east and west passes. Replacing Johnston with Mike Sullivan should keep the pendulum swinging in the right direction and get the Penguins into the playoffs.

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