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Penguins' Shero: 'We're making the playoffs'

Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 3:38 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

His team is banged up and slumping, but Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Ray Shero’s confidence has not wavered, to say the least.

"We're making the playoffs, put it that way," Shero told Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Thursday. "Anything less is unacceptable. … Just making the playoffs is never our goal."

The Penguins have lost six games in a row and currently sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. They are without captain Sidney Crosby, top defenseman Kris Letang and center Jordan Staal because of injuries. Other key players such as Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek and Brooks Orpik have missed time with various ailments this season.

This recent slump has knocked the Penguins, once competing with the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, out of the top eight.

"I like the team we have now," Shero said. "We have good hockey players. We just need to play better. And hopefully I have all those guys back by the trade deadline so I don't have to make a deal."
"We're making the playoffs, put it that way. Anything less is unacceptable. … Just making the playoffs is never our goal." -- Ray Shero
Crosby has played only eight games this season, but was with the team Thursday in Washington for its 1-0 loss to the Capitals and will skate on his own Friday in Sunrise, Fla., when the team prepares to play the Florida Panthers that night.

Shero told Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the team has not considered shutting down Crosby for the season.

"I'm happy he's joining the team on the trip," Shero told Sam Kasan of the team's website. "Sid is a hockey player and he wants to play hockey. He wanted to join our team because we're in a tough stretch. He badly wants to play and be out there, but he's not cleared to play. We want to be very careful. Once he's cleared to play, he'll be the most excited guy on the ice.

"We've been through a lot with concussions. I know this injury and what it takes to come back from it. Every player is different. We're getting more educated throughout the League. It requires patience."

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery