With play about to resume in the NHL, fans can again turn to the on-ice action. For Penguins fans, that’s mostly a good thing. According to SB Nation’s Reacts survey, 93 percent of Pittsburgh fans are confident the team is headed in the right direction, a slight uptick from 89 percent in mid-March.
It may be tough to remember since it’s been so long, but the Penguins weren’t trending in a very positive direction leading up to the season stoppage. Pittsburgh lost six straight games from February 20th - 29th, and overall won just three of the last 11 games leading up to the March 12th stoppage.
Since then, they’ve got healthy. Depth forward Zach Aston-Reese, who missed the last 12 games of the season that were played, has returned to health. John Marino and Brian Dumoulin were powering through returns from surgery and both took advantage of a prolonged break.
But most importantly, Jake Guentzel is back on the ice for the first time in 2020 after suffering a major shoulder injury on December 30th, 2019. Guentzel wouldn’t have been available in a normal year for the playoffs. Now, the Pens get to enjoy the services of a player who has always stepped up big (43 points in 41 career playoff games) when the stakes are the highest.
All of that is a good reason to have more optimism about where the team is for the re-start.
To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here.