Jake Guentzel is on some kind of roll right now for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He scored two more goals on Monday night in the Penguins’ 6-1 win over the Seattle Kraken, which came just two days after he recorded a hat trick in a 4-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.
Those two performances are part of a dominant stretch that began back at the start of November.
Since Nov. 1 Guentzel now has 14 goals, nine assists, and 23 total points in 17 games, bumping his overall season numbers to 15 goals, 12 assists, and 27 total points, leading the team in goals and total points. Since Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin joined the team one of them has led the team in scoring every single season, but Guentzel looks poised to end that streak this season as he has opened up a substantial lead on everybody else. Granted, injuries to Crosby and Malkin have helped that, but Guentzel finished just a handful of points behind Crosby a year ago when both were in the lineup all year. It would be a fitting development as Guentzel has not only become one of the Penguins’ core players, he might even have future captain potential for the post-Crosby/Malkin era.
But it is not just Pittsburgh where Guentzel is a top player.
If you look at his production over the past four seasons dating back to the start of the 2018-19 season there are only a handful of players across the entire league that have matched or exceeded his level of play.
He is one of just 26 players during that stretch to average at least a point-per-game, ranking 20th in the league among skaters that have appeared in at least 100 games. He is tenth among wingers.
He has 98 goals in 200 games during that stretch, a goals per game mark of .490, a mark that places him seventh in the NHL, behind only Alex Ovechkin, Leon Draisaitl, Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, David Pastrnak, and Steven Stamkos. Guentzel is the next player on the list, putting him among the giants of the game right now.
He also does it in every possible way offensively. Even-strength, power play, off the rush, one-timers, set plays, deflections in front of the net, going to the dirty areas to score garbage goals. Just a pure goal scorer in every sense of the definition.
What truly takes Guentzel’s game to another level, though, is that he is simply a smart hockey player.
He can drive possession, his goal scoring makes his passing and playmaking a little underrated, and he rarely makes mistakes with or without the puck.
I have said this before (many times before, actually), but it is worth repeating because I think it is so true: But playing next to Crosby for most of his career has probably underrated Guentzel. There is always going to be the perception that he is simply a product of playing next to one of the game’s all-time great legends. But that does a disservice to the player Guentzel is and has become, and it overlooks the fact that a lot of players — even some great players — have attempted to play next to Crosby and never come close to scoring at this level. There is a lot to be said for being able to take advantage of that spot and score goals. Nobody has been better at that than Guentzel.