Pittsburgh Penguins: Nearing Necessary Shakeup After 3-1 Loss To Washington Capitals

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gene J Puskar

 The Pittsburgh Penguins suffered perhaps their worst loss of the season Tuesday night, a 3-1 flat effort defeat by the hands of the Washington Capitals.

After being held off the scoreboard for the majority of the game, a Zach Aston-Reese goal kept the Penguins from being completely shutout, but the contest had been decided far early in the game.

Washington controlled the action for the majority of the game where it counted, owning most of the scoring and high danger opportunities, despite the overall shot-attempts being close.

The power play was stagnant again. Too many passes were being force into crowds. And there were far too many defensive mishaps (two very costly ones).

What summed it up, with the majority of the struggles this season has been through your goaltending - and then that position wasn't to blame in your worst loss of the year, it may be time for something to happen.

A loss like this is the perfect opportunity to make the first shake up under the new regime of Ron Hextall and Brian Burke.

Although it would make sense to give it some time, to really get a full assessment of the situation before you make a drastic change, games like this are the kind of ones that lead to changes being made.

If the thing your team has been struggling with all season was all of a sudden at the bottom of the reasons for your worst performance of the year - it may be time for something to give.

But what exactly do you shake up? That's where it gets difficult.

Who do you move? What do you change? Do you go for a coaching change to shake things up first?

Outside of moving more draft picks, you don't have the prospect pool to make a significant impact, and any trade involving any roster player that has value probably doesn't make the team any better.

With the emergence of Pierre-Olivier Joseph, the Penguins have an even bigger surplus of left-handed defenseman. It's hard to imagine a scenario in which he should be the odd man out when the team returns to full health.

Could you move one of those players in what seems to be the lone position of strength on the roster? What's the value of a Marcus Pettersson, who just signed a contract extension a little over a year ago with the Penguins, around the league?

A coaching change is usually the way to go, around the league and especially for the Penguins. Two of the team's three Stanley Cup victories came on the heels of coaching changes that same season.

While I don't believe Mike Sullivan is a bad head coach. In fact, I think he is one of the better coaches in the league.

How long a leash do you give a guy from a previous general manager in a win-now situation that the team isn't responding too?

Maybe that's the biggest question in all of this. 

The thing we do know is that the Penguins have 15 points in 14 games played (that's points percentage of 53.5%). They have two regulation wins among their seven total victories, and have a minus-six points differential - the second worse mark of the MassMutual East Division.

Their two regulation wins are tied with the San Jose Sharks for the fewest in the league. That's who they are becoming comparable too at this point in the season.

That's far from a recipe for success a quarter of the way into the season. Think of this too; the Devils have four games in hand and are only three games back of the Penguins, who currently sits in fifth place in the division.

A move will be necessary if they are hoping to even just make the playoffs this season. Remember, thanks to the Pens hanging on to their first round pick last year to use in the Kasperi Kapanen trade, they don't have one again this draft due to acquiring Jason Zucker last season.

So if they don't make the playoffs, that pick becomes a lottery pick for the Minnesota Wild.

What would you do if you were Hextall and Burke? What kind of move would you make? Which is more likely to happen, a coaching change or significant trade? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site at the link above and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy

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