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Penguins better find their offense quickly

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If Pittsburgh wants any sort of playoff run, they need to score more

NHL: Dallas Stars at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After being banged up, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been using smoke, mirrors and hot goaltending to will their way to the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. And they’re almost there, so good for them.

But if they’re going to have any future or hope of having a deep run, they’re going to have to get it in gear. Look at these stats since 3/16 (the day Evgeni Malkin got hurt) which encompasses nine games:

  • 18 goals for (2.0 per game)
  • Five of those games scoring 1 goal through regulation
  • 9.1% on the power play (2 for 22)
  • 76.2% penalty kill (23rd in league)
  • 4-3-2 record....which take away shootout games and it’s a 3-3-1 record.

Over the last nine games the stars are drying up a bit:

  • Sidney Crosby: no goals on just 19 shots (and only three assists)
  • Phil Kessel: one goal (last night vs DET, breaking a long drought)
  • Patric Hornqvist: one goal (and no assists)
  • Bryan Rust: one goal

The Penguins are an offensive-minded team. Always have been, and always will be so long as they have some of the best offensive players in the game.

In some ways, they’re limping to the finish line in the regular season perhaps by design to rest players and try to get them as healthy as possible for the playoffs. Malkin likely could have played a game or two earlier in a dire situation. Probably ditto Brian Dumoulin, whose banged up to take a game off, but probably if last night was Game 5 of a playoff series would have played.

The x-factor, as always, is the status of Kris Letang. Described as “day to day” after getting his neck wrenched on February 23rd, Letang was out until March 19th. He played the next three games and appeared to be as great as normal, before disappearing after a March 23rd game in Dallas, not to be seen since. There’s no news or update or even real rumor on his status or availability, which doesn’t sound great.

The Pens need health, but they will have Malkin back. Geno sounds roaring to go from his talk to the media on Saturday:

Let’s hope that energy is contagious, Pittsburgh has to get more out of guys like Kessel and Hornqvist - two players at even strength and/or power play that Malkin can help. The Pens need Malkin to help them on that power play big time as well.