The Pittsburgh Penguins have had the right process for much of the season. They just needed to start getting the results. To start getting the results, they needed to get a consistent lineup of their players. They have the lineup and players, the process has remained in place, and now the results are starting to follow.
The Penguins enter the weekend on a four-game winning streak over the past week that has seen them outscore their opponents by a 15-2 margin to get back into a playoff position and start collecting points,
The turnaround really seemed to start with that game against Buffalo a little more than a week and it has continued over the past four games since then. Tristan Jarry, Jake Guentzel, and Evan Rodrigues are the players helping to lead the way right now, so it is fitting that they lead this week’s Trending Penguins Players.
Who Is Hot
Tristan Jarry. There is a strong argument to be made that Tristan Jarry has been the Penguins’ best, most consistent player this season. Nobody saw that coming at the start of the season, especially after what we saw from him in the second half of the 2020-21 season and in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But as of Friday Jarry has played the majority of the Penguins games, has a .934 save percentage that is among the best in the league, and he has been absolutely incredible over the past two weeks, allowing just four goals in his past five starts. He has a .938 save percentage for the month of November, including a pair of shutouts, while also being a significant cog in the Penguins’ league best penalty killing unit. He was always going to be the wild card for this team this season and if he can maintain anything close to this level of play it is going to be a complete game-changer for the Penguins chances and their season.
Evan Rodrigues. Think his season might be even more surprising to me than Jarry. For all of the concerns that existed with Jarry, I think there was still always the potential for him to be a really good starting goalie. That is an extremely valuable asset and player. With Rodrigues, you were probably hoping for somebody to just contribute in a bottom-six role, and most likely a fourth line role. But he has been so much more than that this season. He already has seven goals and seven assists (14 total points) in 17 games this season, and his goal on Wednesday night was an absolute laser of a shot that looked like an elite goal scorer. What is perhaps most encouraging about his early success is that he does not have an outrageously high or unsustainable shooting percentage to drive it, and he also has outstanding underlying numbers where he has been helping to drive possession. He is having a legitimately outstanding season and looking like another important complementary player.
Jake Guentzel. He is really starting to get on a roll now. He enters the weekend on a seven-game point streak and has scored a goal in five of his past six games. He is already up to eight goals and eight assists (16 total points) in his first 18 games and looking like he has another potential 40-goal season in him. He is simply one of the most underrated players in the league a top-tier winger.
Who Is Not
The Power Play. This group has remained a constant in this section all season, and at this point I am really not even sure what else there is to say about it. It was nice to see Bryan Rust score on the power play on Wednesday, and they have had a couple of goals here recently that came just after the power play expired, but this is still a group that looks disjointed and sloppy more often than not.
Brian Dumoulin. Not sure what it is with him right now, but he has not looked right for much of the season when he has been in the lineup. Not necessarily bad, but a significant drop from what we have been used to seeing from him over the years. Not going to panic about that just yet because there is enough of a track record here where there should be a reasonable expectation for him to bounce back and get back on track.
Kasperi Kapanen. I loved what he brought to the Penguins a year ago, and you can still see flashes of it at times this season, but there is another level for him to reach this season that he has not yet consistently reached. He has only scored a goal in two of his 19 games and has been held without a point in 12 of them. I do like the way he has fit on a line with Jason Zucker and Evan Rodrigues, and the line as a whole has been effective, but it could have been even better with more offensive production from Kapanen himself.