This was a frustrating week for the Penguins because their record did not accurately reflect the way they played.
They carried the play against Edmonton and Boston and outside of a tough second period in Brooklyn did the same against the Islanders. It would have been easy — very easy — for them to win all three games and have six points added to their record. That is probably what they deserved.
But because they ran into a white-hot Mike Smith on Saturday, and because their own goalies self-destructed in Boston, and because every possible bounce went against them for two periods in New York, they had to scramble for a wild third period comeback just to come out of the week with a 1-1-1 record.
That is hockey, folks. Sometimes this stuff does not make any sense.
Having said all of that, you should be happy with the way the Penguins are playing because the needle is moving in the right direction for this group and a couple of individual results this week should not change that perception.
Now it is time for your weekly Penguins’ stock report.
Who Is Up
Bryan Rust — He is one of the players that you never really fully appreciate until he isn’t there. From the moment he arrived in Pittsburgh Rust has been an incredibly valuable player because 1) he is really good, and 2) he can play so many different roles throughout the lineup. He is not out of place on the first line. He can bring offense to the third or fourth lines. He can kill penalties. If there is an opening somewhere on the roster, there is a good chance he can play it. He was one of the players the Penguins were missing early in the season and now that he is back he is making a huge impact. He helped drive the come-from-behind win in Brooklyn with a pair of goals — including the game-winner in overtime — and has now recorded a point in five consecutive games. He has four goals, two assists and is on the plus side of pretty much every category. If the Penguins are going to win they are going to need players like Rust to have big years. He is off to a great start.
Jared McCann — Speaking of secondary players that the Penguins are going to need a lot from this season, McCann has been on a bit of a roll over the past week as well, and along with Rust and Evgeni Malkin was a key factor in the comeback against the Islanders. His goal got everything started. He is currently on a 29-goal, 54 point pace with a 53 percent Corsi share. The Penguins should be ecstatic if they get that from him this season because it probably means they are having a great season.
John Marino — Not just because he scored his first NHL goal, but mainly because he has played really well. I wasn’t sure what to make him at the beginning, but the more he plays the more you can see why everyone around the organization is so excited about him. We have been critical of Jim Rutherford’s roster moves the past couple of years but this one is looking like a massive win.
Who is not
The Goalies — I say this while also acknowledging that Matt Murray’s scorpion save in the third period on Thursday, immediately leading to Rust’s first goal, helped swing the game in the Penguins’ favor. But Goaltending is probably the single biggest reason the Penguins did not get a win in Boston, and Murray had a really tough start on Thursday before bearing down in the third period. They have been better, they can be better, they need to be better.
The Power Play — Speaking of needing to be better, holy crap. What is going on here? We are now over 10 games without a power play goal (almost a full month, here folks) and they gave up an ugly shorthanded goal on Thursday in New York. There really is not any other level of analysis you need to get to right now. It is bad. Very bad. Really bad.