With four games in the book it is time to check in with our first edition of Trending Penguins Players for the 2022-23 NHL season to see who is hot, and who is not.
So far, most of the roster is very hot.
It would be difficult for the Penguins to get off to a better start than they have through the first four games, going 3-0-1, collecting seven out of a possible eight points, and scoring at least six goals in three of their first four games. It has been a steady team-wide effort so far with the stars playing like stars, the depth players providing the necessary secondary scoring, and the goaltenders playing great.
We take a look at all of that and more. Here we go....
Who Is Hot
Tristan Jarry. He has been an underrated storyline so far this season given how great the offense has been, but Jarry has been outstanding as well. He also played an important role in Thursday’s 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings because he kept the Penguins in the game early on when they were getting outplayed and significantly outshot. In his three starts he has a .952 save percentage and narrowly missed a shutout on Thursday night against a very good Kings team. Also worth mentioning that Casey DeSmith also played great in his first start of the season and at least helped them get a point in Montreal.
Jason Zucker. He has a goal and three assists so far, but he is also making some big contributions on plays that are not necessarily showing up on the stat sheet. He has been a monster on the forecheck, has been a menace around the front of the net, and is playing some of his best hockey as a member of the Penguins. That entire second line with Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust is clicking right now.
The Jeff Petry-Marcus Pettersson duo. Touched on this briefly earlier in the week, but I can not say enough good things about this duo. They are getting significant defensive zone starts, have played more minutes of 5-on-5 hockey than any other pairing on the team through the first four games, and they have been simply outstanding together with dominant possession, scoring chance, and expected goal numbers, while also outscoring teams 4-1 when they are on the ice during 5-on-5 play. This has been a fantastic pairing, and if they can maintain that and give the Penguins a bonafide second pairing behind Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin they are really going to be on to something here defensively. Jeff Petry is just what they needed.
Evgeni Malkin. He still has it, and he has been great. As long as he stays healthy he should have a huge season and perhaps even one of his best in recent years. He can still score goals at an elite rate and he has much better linemates this season. There will not be many questions remaining as to whether or not the Penguins should have re-signed him.
Sidney Crosby. Speaking of still having it, Sidney Crosby is still getting things done. He was a little quieter statistically over the past two games, but he opened the season with back-to-back three point games and has seven points in four games already. They really have something with these top two lines around Crosby and Malkin.
Who Is Not
Jake Guentzel getting banged up. Jake Guentzel has played great. No issue there. Where there is an issue is him taking a late, high hit from Brendan Lemieux and then getting hit in the head with a slap shot. Do not need him getting injured.
The fourth line. Maybe this is nitpicking, because they have not been bad by any stretch of the imagination, but this is definitely the Achilles Heel of this roster so far. They are just not going to provide much offense and if this team does make a serious run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs I can not imagine this is the trio that will be playing on that line.