Hockey: are the Pens doomed in '08-09?

Latest dispatch from Pittsburgh, where last year’s run to the Stanley Cup final is fading into memory: defenceman Ryan Whitney is gone for up to five months after surgery to correct a bone fault in his foot.

This guy is a key to the Pens’ season, working the point on the power play along with Sergei Gonchar and keeping pace with the Pens’ prodigious young forwards. But pundits worried this promising team might fall apart in the off-season, and so far the pessimists have been right. Gone are Ryan Malone, Marian Hossa, Georges Laraque, Gary Roberts, Jarkko Ruutu to trades and free agency. And now Whitney for 15-20 games. Sure, they picked up Miro Satan and Matt Cooke, and of course the Crosby/Malkin one-two punch should never be underestimated. But I’m starting to think the Sid and Co. might be in tough to make the playoffs. Cooke is a role player. Satan has a hole where his heart should be. The team’s blueline corps was already suspect, masked as it was by high-powered attack. Worse, they’re stuck in a div with the Flyers and Jersey and the Rangers, all of whom will be jockeying for the playoffs come April.

Last I heard, the Pens were trying to get rid of aging d-man Darryl Sydor, a reliable 15-20-minute per game man who has valuable experience if little to contribute offensively. They might want to rethink that move now.

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