Style points do not matter right now. Just get the wins anyway you can, and the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to do that in a couple of road games this past week by beating the Montreal Canadiens in overtime and then jumping all over the Vegas Golden Knights early on Tuesday to give them enough cushion to hold on for the win.
It was a lot of the same players contributing to the wins. Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust scored a couple of goals, Kris Letang had a huge game in Vegas, and Tristan Jarry continued to play strong hockey to justify his spot in the All-Star Game.
One of the more underrated parts of the team this past week — and for this entire season — has been the play of their shutdown line of Teddy Blueger, Brandon Tanev, and Zach Aston-Reese.
They were outstanding this week in all phases of the game and lead this week’s Penguins’ Stock Report update.
Let us take a quick look at who is hot and who is not for the week.
Who Is Up
The Teddy Blueger-Brandon Tanev-Zach Aston-Reese line — This has been an outstanding shutdown line for the Penguins this season, and this past week they have lived up to that reputation. They have also contributed to the offense, too. Blueger had three assists this past week, Tanev scored two goals (both game winners, including an overtime goal in Montral), and Aston-Reese scored a big early goal in Montreal. Any offense you get from this trio is a bonus, but their main responsibility is locking things down, and they have done that, too. They simply do not give up anything. In the three games this week they allowed 1.04 expected goals per 60 minutes, dominated the scoring chances (again, giving up almost none), and did all of that while once again starting the majority of their shifts in the defensive zone. This is exactly what you want in a bottom-six line. They give up nothing and they have the ability to chip in some offense.
Matt Murray — He is not all the way back, and Tristan Jarry is still the goalie for right now, but I liked what I have seen from Murray in his past two starts. His numbers are better, and he has looked better. He did give up one clunker of a goal in Montreal (the one that came after that brutal Kris Letang turnover on the cross-ice pass) but he really helped get that win with a huge third period performance. Maybe that is the game that gets him going in the right direction.
Dominik Kahun — With Jake Guentzel sidelined you know Kahun is going to get an increased role, and he was one of the stars in the Penguins’ win in Vegas earlier this week with a huge goal and an assist. He is now on pace for 20 goals this season and continues to be a significant addition to the lineup. If he can give them 20 goals combined with his defensive play and ability to drive possession on an entry-level contract that is an extremely valuable player. He is exactly the type of forward the Penguins needed to acquire this past summer.
Who Is Not
Joseph Blandisi — He had a tough week. He played just over 10 total minutes, did not record a single shot on goal in that time, was a minus-3, and then found himself on waivers.
Alex Galchenyuk — Am starting to hate putting him in this section every week because it feels like piling on, but what else can you do? Even with Jake Guentzel out of the lineup he can not rise above fourth-line duty and can not even consistently crack the 11-minute mark for ice-time. I do not think it is a lack of effort or trying, it is simply not working here. There are games where you look in the third period and have to double check to see if he actually played at any point. Just completely unnoticeable.