The defending Stanley Cup champions are doing all but defending their crown this season. The club is off to one of their worst starts in franchise history and it appears that the ship has sailed in terms of competing for another title this year. All but two regulars, Riley Sheahan and Brandon Sutter, possess a negative plus/minus rating. Only two players, Sidney Crosby and Bo Horvat, have eclipsed the 20 point mark through 35 games played this season. Only two players, Jeff Skinner and Riley Nash, have scored 10 or more goals thus far. Suffice it say, the Penguins have underperformed and then some this season.

"It's incredibly frustrating. Our play is nowhere near indicative or our true ability. We had some turnover from last year, but most of us in our dressing room have a ring. It's absolutely pathetic"  said a flustered Seth Jones after Friday mornings optional skate. 

One would think that a team made up of players like Crosby, Jones, Skinner and Horvat would have no trouble lighting the lamp, but that simply has not been the case. The Penguins have netted an abysmal 81 goals (3rd lowest), while allowing 94 goals (12th best). It is safe to say that if the offensive production does not ramp up soon, the Penguins will have a lengthly offseason ahead of them.

"It hasn't been a matter of not getting our chances. I know we rank amongst the top half of the league in shots. It's the quality of shots and finishing that has been our downfall. If we can start getting a few bounces, I am optimistic that things can turn around for us," added Pens captain, Sidney Crosby.

Consistent goaltending has also been a problem, with Matt Murray underperforming to put it mildly. Murray won an impressive 16 games out of 20 last post season and was arguably the team's MVP (Claude Giroux) of the playoffs. 

"Matt has struggled this year and has also dealt with some injury concerns. Lets not forget that he is also dealing with the loss of his father, something a young kid his age shouldn't have to experience. On the bright side, he has looked sharper since returning from injury. Hopefully he returns to his true form and helps us get back in the hunt," stated head coach, Dan Bylsma. 

A sub 0.9 save percentage and a goals against average of nearly three per game is far from the 0.918 S% and 2.1 GAA Murray posted this past playoff. In fact, backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney, has been the lone bright spot for the Penguins. The aging netminder has a winning record of 7-6-1 and has put up decent stats (2.57 GAA and 0.901 S%). It is no wonder that the two have been sharing starts as of late. 

Rumour has it that the Penguins may be looking to unload some players in the event that things in Pittsburgh remain status quo. Look for the Penguins to be active at the deadline, even if it is not the type of activity they were hoping for at the beginning of the season. 

More to come....