Penguins GM: Changes coming 'in short order' if losing continues

Pittsburgh’s poor start to the season could trigger a ripple of changes.

During his Wednesday appearance on his bi-weekly radio show on 105.9 FM, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford blasted his team and threatened a shakeup if things don’t improve.

“What I’m seeing I don’t like,” Rutherford said. “Nobody likes it. We’re trying to figure out what’s gone wrong here.

“I’d like to say we have an answer for it. We don’t right now. We’re watching it really close. Certainly if this continues, in short order, we’re going to have to make some changes.”

Rutherford highlighted “inconsistent goaltending” and uneven “work ethic” as two of the team’s biggest problems, calling for better defense and goals from players other than stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Kris Letang.

“We have the players that can work through it,” Rutherford said. “Sometimes they can. Sometimes they can’t. I wonder if this group’s been together too long and if we need to change it up, but that’s what I’ll watch for here in the next few games.”

Entering Wednesday’s game against the Capitals, the Penguins were riding a four-game losing streak where they had been outscored 19-6. That mark was extended to five games as the team left Washington with a 2-1 defeat.

But Pittsburgh will have a few days to get to the root of its problems and work to find some sort of solution.

“We’re not playing with any energy or determination,” Rutherford said. “We’re just trying to get through the games. These other teams are coming and outworking us. They deserve to beat us. In some of these games, they probably deserve to beat us worse than the score indicates.

“It’s just getting back to basics and guys getting back to work — come to the rink ready to work and determined to win. I haven’t seen it since we got back from Canada. It’s very concerning.”

The Penguins (6-5-3) will look to get back on track when they host the Coyotes (7-6-0) at 7 p.m. ET Saturday.