The Pittsburgh Penguins wrapped up the first half of the 2019-20 regular season in a rather successful way, coming out of the holiday break by winning three out of four games this past week and collecting seven out of a possible eight points in the standings.
They dominated the Nashville Predators in back-to-back games, took care of business against the Ottawa Senators, and then at least gained a point against the San Jose Sharks. They probably left one on the table in overtime, but seven out of eight points is nothing to complain about.
The only thing there is to complain about is another significant injury, this time to Jake Guentzel.
It was another big week for the usual suspects at the top of the lineup, while a couple of depth players also made their marks.
This is the weekly Penguins stock report.
Who Is Up
Bryan Rust — It is absolutely incredible what this guy is doing this season. He is only two goals away from matching his career high and only five points away from that career high. He has only played in 26 games so far this season. His 82-game pace right now: 53 goals and 104 points. He had eight points in the four games this past week. Combine that with his great all-around play and this is All-Star level stuff.
Alex Galchenyuk — With Guentzel sidelined the Penguins are going to really need more from players like Galchenyuk. Heck, even with Guentzel in the lineup they needed more production from Galchenyuk. They started to get some of that production this week with him collecting four points in four games, including goals in back-to-back games against Nashville. It is not much in the big picture, but maybe it is the spark he needs to regain his confidence and start producing like the Penguins hoped he would.
Dominik Simon — Simon had been invisible for a while and finally started to find a little bit of the puck luck that had avoided him throughout the first half of the season. I also thought he played a really strong game against San Jose and was more noticeable than he had been in weeks.
Patric Hornqvist — Part of me was curious to see how many giveaway Rubik’s cubes would hit the ice on Thursday night if he scored one more goal, and part of me was worried about the thought of it. He very quietly has nine goals in 23 games this season.
Tristan Jarry — He just keeps on plugging along, stopping shots and helping the Penguins get points and wins.
Who Is Not
Jared McCann’s goal scoring — Given how strong the week was for the Penguins there really is not much to complain about and not many players off their game, so I’m probably really reaching here. But McCann has just one goal in his past 16 games and has cooled off considerably from an offensive perspective the past couple weeks. Still really like his game. Still really like the combination of him and Dominik Kahun on a line together, so much so that I would resist the temptation to one of them to Crosby’s line when he returns. But he is a little snakebit right now when it comes to goals.
The return of the overtime struggles — The Penguins had been better in overtime games recently, but that performance on Thursday against the Sharks was early season Penguins overtime. It started with a bad turnover, then a bad back-check, then a bad penalty, then a power play goal against for the other team.
The injuries — Seriously. Stop it,