Pittsburgh Riding Seven-Game Win Streak
By: Wyatt Silverman
The Penguins got off to a great start on their road trip, with victories in their first 3 games. They are now riding a seven-game win streak. With matches against the Rangers and Maple Leafs coming up, this could be a really productive voyage for the boys in black and gold.
Pittsburgh outscored their 3 opponents by a combined score of 14–5, including the goal credited for a shootout win. They started the week off with a solid 4–1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, continued with an exciting, physical, but sloppy matchup (leading to a shootout win) versus the Winnipeg Jets, then finished with a 6–1 drubbing of the hapless Buffalo Sabres.
A big storyline from this week was that the Pens continued their string of success on the penalty kill. They have moved up to 3rd place in the overall PK rankings, at 88.5%. The power play has been strong, but has also dropped off a bit, sitting at 37.5% after a bit of a down week. The Penguins finally had a scoreless night on the man advantage, going 0 for 5 against Winnipeg, which certainly didn’t help their average. However, with a 2/5 evening against Buffalo, they Pens are certainly fighting to keep their numbers above 40%. The success of the power play has done a lot to “keep teams honest” and may be helping to provide extra breathing room for the star players in the top–6.
Speaking of those star players, Sidney Crosby has retained the overall scoring lead, with 24 points in 13 games. a 1.85 PPG hasn’t been seen over a full season since Lemieux in 1995–96. Obviously, there’s a good chance Crosby won’t maintain this pace, but it’s remarkable to see this level of casual excellence. That scoring average was definitely brought up by his 5-assist night against Buffalo; it was the 3rd of his career. Evgeni Malkin contributed to the victory as well, earning his first even-strength goal of the season. Malkin is now at #11 in scoring, with 17 points.
On the defensive side, Kris Letang dropped a 4 point (2G, 2A) night against the Sabres, and currently sits in 6th place for shots by defensemen. Coach Mike Johnston has been requesting that his D-men shoot the puck more, and it seems that Letang has followed suit. Also, Robert Bortuzzo has returned, and seems to have reacclimated very well to the NHL after his injury. He’s scored a goal and has provided strong physical play and effective puck movement.
Up next this week are the final two games of the road trip, in New York and Toronto respectively, followed by a matchup at home with the Rangers. Neither of the two teams have been particularly good this year, so hopefully the Pens can continue their strong run.