Overall you have to be happy with the results for the Pittsburgh Penguins this week. They bounced back from an ugly loss in Los Angeles to win three straight games in San Jose, Vegas, and back at home against the Ottawa Senators.
The process behind those wins might not be what they wanted and definitely gives them some things to work on. The game in San Jose was sloppy and pretty much stolen by Louis Domingue. They had a rough start in Vegas before rebounding to dominate the final 50 minutes. Then the Ottawa game on Thursday night was just weird. Slow first period with a big lead, built into an even bigger lead, and then having to hold on at the end to avoid what would have been an incredible comeback by the Senators.
Good results, but the process needs some work. As long as that does not continue for an extended period of time it does not seem like too big of a deal. Over the course of an 82-game season you sometimes have to steal some games where you are not at your best.
The other big news this week is that the Penguins were just hours away from icing a lineup that had everybody in it. Right up until Jason Zucker got hurt again on Thursday. So close. So, so close.
We look at all of that and more in this week’s Trending Penguins Players.
Who Is Hot
Sidney Crosby. Crosby had a three-game scoring drought in the middle of the west coast trip and he bounced back this week with what is currently a three-game point streak. That included a pair of goals and an assist. The assist was a great play in overtime in San Jose to set up Jake Guentzel’s game-winning goal. After a slow start upon his return this season (two points in his first seven games) he is now back to a point-per-game pace for the season overall (27 points in 27 games) and has 25 points over his past 20 games. Still got it.
Jake Guentzel. Oh, hey, look, another goal scoring streak for Guentzel. He has scored a goal in each of the past three Penguins games, including back-to-back game-winning goals against San Jose and Vegas. He is scoring goals at a 52-goal pace per 82 games this season and since the start of the 2018-19 season has scored at a 40-goal pace per 82 games. Simply one of the best goal scorers in the NHL.
Mike Matheson. Wrote about his season on Wednesday and he followed that with a two-goal, three-point effort on Thursday night. Nice to see his strong overall play this season get rewarded with a little more production on the scoreboard. You can criticize the contract if you want, and maybe it still is a long-term problem, but you can not really criticize his play right now.
Nice penalty kill bounce back. The penalty kill hit a little bit of a slump lately and even lost its top spot ranking league wide. But they had a nice week killing off eight out of nine penalties, including a huge performance in San Jose to help get the game to overtime to steal the two points in the standings.
Jason Zucker returned and scored two goals. This was a really encouraging sign. Not only because it helped the Penguins rally from a three-goal deficit in Vegas to get a win, but also because the Penguins could really use a big second half performance from Zucker. It also showed that the Penguins were inching their way toward a complete lineup. The only problem....
Who Is Not
Jason Zucker got hurt again. So no complete lineup on Thursday. You had to know that was going to happen.
Slow starts. This has been a bit of a trend over the past week or so, just not coming out fast in the first period. So far they have been able to mostly correct it and turn things around in-game to do enough to keep stacking wins, but you do not want to keep putting yourself in a position where you have to do that.
Evan Rodrigues. It was going to happen eventually. It had to happen. At some point the scoring pace would slow down. He is now on a six-game point-less streak and has seen a decrease in his shots on goal during that stretch. Am not going to go as far as to say he is playing poorly, but this is now his longest point-less streak of the season.