Penguins MVP players Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby have been producing in spades, but it hasn't been enough for Pittsburgh- losers of two straight games. We look at the players who need to pick it up in order to help the team get back to their winning ways, as well as two key players who have taken their secondary scoring elsewhere.
It's one thing to have two of the best offensive players in the world, but just because they are showing up and producing offense early doesn't mean the Penguins are necessarily going to win.
Chris Kunitz has an empty net goal, Pascal Dupuis has a PP marker (made possible by a great Malkin feed) and that's it for the top line wingers goal production. Neither of them played during the lockout and both haven't seemed to make enough of the little passes or been in quite the right positioning to play off of Crosby to create at even strength.
James Neal has three goals (all coming in the first two games) and no assists, so it's hard to say he isn't producing. He also hit a post last night in the 3rd period, and is generating offense with Malkin, which is more than Tyler Kennedy or Eric Tangradi can say- both of whom have tried and failed at getting anything at all going.
Kennedy has that one goal and no assists. Matt Cooke has no points in four games. Brandon Sutter has one secondary assist. The 4th line of Joe Vitale, Craig Adams and Tanner glass has combined for zero goals and one assist (Vitale's).
Obviously the big guys are the ones that get the powerplay time and need to score. The Pittsburgh Penguins aren't going anywhere without Crosby and Malkin producing in spades.
But they also need secondary help. Some of that help left in the off-season and we had worried wasn't adequately replaced. Steve Sullivan was told by the Pens that they were moving on and he did too, signing with Phoenix in the summer. Sullivan has five points (4g, 1a) in four games, including a hat-trick earlier in the week. Down in Carolina, Jordan Staal has four points in four games (all assists).
Staal and Sullivan were 5th and 6th, respectively, on the Pens in scoring last season. Their secondary scoring has not been replicated so far in this short season, and despite the efforts of Crosby and Malkin, it's becoming clear in the past two games that Pittsburgh is desperately missing a spark and production once the big guys step off the ice.