Penguins general manager Ray Shero has a lot of people he can consult when contemplating a trade or other personnel move.

He has staff members, coaches, scouts and perhaps a friend or two in the hockey business.
One group not on Shero's speed dial in those matters is the players.

They have their opinions, of course, and right now they are hoping that with the April 3 NHL trade deadline approaching, Shero decides the club is good enough to stand pat, or something close to that.
The players' voice is limited to their performance and their cohesiveness in the locker room. They figure they have spoken as clearly as possible by assembling an 11-game winning streak heading into tonight's game against rival Philadelphia at Consol Energy Center, possibly making it more difficult for Shero to want to swing a deal or two or three.

"Yeah, hopefully," center and team captain Sidney Crosby said. "It says a lot about the guys in [the locker room]. I think that's a good problem to have as a general manager because of a team showing some positive signs.

"I think guys have been focused on [playing well]. They haven't been too preoccupied with other things."
The winning streak certainly helps their cause, especially when they have been winning while two key figures -- center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang -- have been hurt.

Both are close to returning.

"It makes the locker room nice and tight," winger Chris Kunitz said of all the winning. "Everyone's feeling good about the way they're playing.

"Maybe it's nice that we don't even have all of our best [because of injuries] and we go out and find a way to win."

But Shero and his staff have to look ahead to the playoffs and determine what, if anything, might help ensure that the club doesn't suffer another first-round loss as it has the past two years.

The Penguins have won just one playoff series since they won the Stanley Cup in 2009.

Any holes in the lineup probably haven't seemed as glaring lately. The Penguins are in first place in the Eastern Conference with 48 points, which also puts them firmly in first place in the Atlantic Division, 14 points in front of New Jersey before games Saturday night.

There were some deficiencies earlier, perhaps attributed at least in part to a lockout that shortened training camp to a week and pushed the start of the season back to Jan. 19.