It may not have always been exactly how they drew it up, but the Pittsburgh Penguins have won three games in a row, collected at least a point in six consecutive games, and are 8-2-4 over the past month.
Collecting points the way they have is especially encouraging not only because of the injury situation they have been able to consistently overcome, but also because of the way they are actually playing (they are dominating games!).
The top players have been outstanding, depth players like Dominik Kahun (his slow start is a distant memory) and Jared McCann (he is proving his post-trade performance was no fluke and might actually score 30 goals this season) have emerged as big-time contributors, and Tristan Jarry has helped bring some stability to the goaltending position in recent games.
They have become a top-tier defensive team, Alex Galchenyuk finally scored a goal, the power play has improved, they won a game in overtime, and they still have Sidney Crosby waiting to return in a few weeks. Things are looking good!
It is time now for your weekly Penguins’ stock report looking at who is currently up and who is not.
Who Is Up
Tristan Jarry — Jarry picked up the win in each of the Penguins’ three games this week and continued what has been a great start to the 2019-20 season. He picked up wins in the New Jersey and Calgary games as the starter, then came on in relief of Matt Murray in the second period of Wednesday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. He allowed just five goals in his three appearances and is now up to a .938 save percentage in his first eight games this season. I have been arguing for a while now that he should get more starts, mainly to limit Murray’s workload and not wear him down too much in the regular season. Right now I think he should be getting more starts simply because he has earned it.
The Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, and Bryan Rust line — These three make the who is hot section once again, and for good reason. They are completely dominant right now and driving the Penguins’ offense. Malkin is playing at an MVP level since returning to the lineup, Guentzel is showing that he might be one of the biggest bargains in the NHL against the salary cap, and Rust has been white hot and still filling the net. After scoring just one goal in his first 29 games a year ago, he now has 26 goals in the 57 games that have followed.
John Marino — As I wrote on Wednesday, he has been exactly what the Penguins needed this season on their blue line. He is taking on an increasingly larger role and just keeps playing well and producing. He is currently on a six-game point streak and has 10 points in the Penguins’ past 12 games.
Who Is Not
Matt Murray — If the Penguins are going to go on an extended playoff run and seriously compete for another Stanley Cup Murray is still probably going to be the goalie that helps lead them there. Right now he is struggling. He only played in one game this week (Wednesday night against the Vancouver Canucks) but it was one of his worst showings of the season and continued what has been a mostly difficult stretch. He has now lost four consecutive decisions and has had a save percentage lower than .905 in seven of his past eight games. In six of those games his save percentage has been .900 or lower. He had a slow start to the 2018-19 season and was able to bounce back after December and still play some of the best hockey of his career. They could use that sort of turnaround from this season as well.
Patric Hornqvist — Will not go as far as to say that he is playing all that poorly, but he has just one goal in his past five games and has made some questionable decisions with the puck at times, while also fumbling some players you would like to see him make. You can not question the toughness, the work ethic, or the effort, but I would like to see a little more offense from him right now.
Chad Ruhwedel — He has finally started to crack the lineup this week and, quite frankly, I thought he struggled a bit. He got caught in the first period against Vancouver on a bad neutral zone pinch that produced the Canucks’ first goal and started to shift momentum their way in a game the Penguins had, up until that point, been in complete control of. His overall numbers in his first three games have been on the negative side (especially his possession numbers) and he just has not looked all that good just yet.