We are bumping the weekly Trending Penguins Players a day early this week, so let us get to it.
It was not the best week for the Penguins as their five-game winning streak came to an end with a frustrating loss against Montreal where they probably deserved a better result, a game where they stole a point in Calgary, and then Wednesday’s weird game in Edmonton where the Penguins played okay overall but let Edmonton’s superstars get a little too much open space one too many times.
The bright spot for the week though continues to be Jake Guentzel.
Who Is Hot
Jake Guentzel. He simply has it going on right now. His goal on Wednesday night, a rocket of a one-timer off of a set face-off play, extended his current point streak to 11 games and continues his great season offensively. It is remarkable the type of player he has turned into where he is legitimately one of the best all-around wingers in the NHL. I have said this before but he will probably never get the credit he deserves because he gets to play next to Sidney Crosby. But that should not take away from his ability or talents or the fact he is an outstanding player on his own merits. There are a lot of really good players that have played next to Crosby over the years and never produced at this level.
Evan Rodrigues. I am still completely blown away by what we are seeing from Rodrigues this season. Not only the offensive production, but he just looks like a different player. His confidence is off the charts right now as he plays what is by far and away the best hockey of his career. I want to see him back on a line with Jason Zucker and Kasperi Kapanen because that line was dominant, while Jeff Carter has not really clicked with those two wingers quite yet this season.
The penalty kill. Still the best unit in hockey, even on Wednesday night in Edmonton. On a night where the Oilers scored five goals the Penguins’ PK completely shut down the Oilers’ historically great power play, holding them to an 0-for-3 night with the extra skater. Great system, great goaltending, great results.
Who Is Not
Sidney Crosby. He is back in the lineup, but he is not yet “back.” Not like what we know him. The points are there, at least from an assist perspective, but he just does not look right at the moment. That should probably be expected given that he is coming back from COVID and offseason wrist surgery. He is clearly not 100 percent from one of those two things (or both of them). Not worried about him long-term this season, but right now he seems to be fighting it a bit.
Brian Dumoulin. For years Dumoulin has been one of the steadiest Penguins players. A rock on the blue line. Old reliable. But man, he just does not look right this season. I worry about how players like him might age (probably not gracefully) and I hope this is not the start of that. I do not want to be too critical of how a defender defends a 2-on-1 against Connor McDavid because, I mean, it is Connor McDavid and sometimes a world class player will make a world class play, but Dumoulin did not offer much resistance on a couple of those goals on Wednesday night.
Penguins shooters in the shootout. Had this thought on Monday night when the Penguins were in Calgary. But for all of the talk about how much Tristan Jarry struggled in the shootout earlier this season, the Penguins shooters have not exactly been great this season. They are converting on 30 percent of their shots this season, which is a little below what you would expect. Is it a huge deal? Maybe not big picture, but it has probably cost them an extra point or two so far this season.