It was a good news and bad news kind of week for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The good news: They went 2-0 to finish their west coast road trip and the superstars were shining.
The bad news: Another of those top players ended up getting injured.
Sounds about right for this team lately.
We look at all of that and more in this week’s Trending Penguins Players.
Who Is Hot
Jake Guentzel. Yes, he is here again, and how could he not be? In the two games this week he had five goals and two assists, including a hat trick in the Penguins’ 4-1 win in Vancouver. He followed that up by scoring two more goals in Seattle after initially leaving the game due to being hit on the hand with the puck. Then we found out later in the week that he was going to be sidelined on a week-to-week basis. Figures.
Sidney Crosby. Now we have something going here. After looking a bit sluggish to start his season Crosby is starting to find his game and play like, well, Sidney Crosby. He had an outstanding week with five points, including two goals, in the two wins. There had to be some expectation for a slow start given the fact that he was returning from offseason wrist surgery and then missed some time due to COVID. Took him a while to get rolling, but we appear to be at that point.
Kris Letang. Letang has been having a really strong season, and he was really productive these past two games. He had four assists, seven shots on goal (second best on the team this week) and was a plus-five. We are still waiting for Brian Dumoulin to play his best hockey of the season (Letang’s numbers are great next to everybody else but Dumoulin this season) but Letang has been his normal self for most of the season. Still a high level all-around defensemen even after all of these years.
Jeff Carter. He has very quietly put together a productive season and is now on a 25-goal pace over 82 games. Given how little the Penguins gave up to acquire him and how Los Angeles retained a significant portion of his contract, leaving the Penguins on the hook for just around $2 million per season, he has been an absolute steal for Ron Hextall.
Who Is Not
The injuries. I mean, come on. How does this keep happening? Evgeni Malkin has been sidelined all season, Bryan Rust is out again, and now Guentzel, having a career year and climbing the goal scoring leaderboard and starting to really hit his stride, goes out for a “week-to-week” basis. It is just incredible how this keeps happening to this team right now.
Kasperi Kapanen. This has just been a rough year for Kapanen. There was so much hope and expectation for a big, breakout season offensively and it simply has not happened. He also seems to be losing confidence and getting down on himself. He has just one goal in his past 12 games and has not recorded a point of any kind over his past four, while recording just seven shots on goal during that point-less streak. He is going to have a big opportunity playing on the top line during Guentzel’s absence, and hopefully that helps jumpstart him a little bit offensively. It better.
Dominik Simon. Probably the most polarizing and confounding player in recent Penguins history. He still has the great possession numbers that make him an analytics favorite, but I have not noticed the slick playmaking or little plays that keep shifts alive from him that I have seen in the past. Even when he was not producing he always seemed to be doing something that helped his line drive offense. But none of that seems to be there this season, and he has not scored a goal since the season opener and has zero points in 14 consecutive games.