There's a lot of talk this week about Chris Kunitz and his current scoring slump. Please note that doesn't mean he isn't picking up points (seven assists), but he still remains without a goal after 14 postseason games.
Actually that same talk has carried over from the Philly series. And Washington series. Safe to say that if the Pens advance to the championship and he's still held without a goal we'll likely hear about it then too.
It's not necessarily an area of concern, as evidenced by Pittsburgh's ability to advance this far without his contributions, but it sure would be nice if the Pens could add a little extra firepower from a guy who picked up seven goals and 11 assists since coming on board at the trade deadline.
If anything at least his presence is known. His slump hasn't exactly regaled him to the degree of less ice time or scratches from the roster. His physical game is still evident, if not compensation for holding a scoreless run, and he's knocking pucks lose on the forecheck/backcheck as well. As much as Kunitz may be slumping during the playoffs it's hard to really blame him for not contributing.
Coach Dan Bylsma doesn't seem overly discouraged, noting Kunitz's style of play:
"Every player has a foundation to their game; they have their role. (Kunitz's) role is straight-line, aggressive hockey to the net, (and) physical. If things aren't going well for him, he should always make sure he returns to that foundation. We've talked about it. He has to focus."
Maybe that's just it. Kunitz was brought on board as a guy to keep in front of the net. A guy who can jostle some pucks loose, create rebound opportunities and redirect some shots in. If he's not being called on for that, yet the Pens are still scoring (and winning), perhaps that's a good sign. As long as he's up to the task when the Pens start needing that from him I say there's no reason to be concerned, but if he'd like to snap that scoring streak Thursday night in Game Two I'd be more than happy to see it.
I had a little more time to dive into Kunitz’s career playoff numbers. He’s definitely more of a set-up man in the postseason than he is a goal scorer.
In 49 career playoff games (including this season) Kunitz has registered 4G and 19A. So if we’re going at the rate of practically one goal every 10 games then he’s due in Game 2.