When you are on a six-game losing streak that has featured three blown multiple goal leads there are not going to be many positives. If there were more positives, you wouldn’t be on a six-game losing streak with three blown multiple goal leads.
But that is the situation the Pittsburgh Penguins have made for themselves and it is up to them to play their way out of it.
They get a chance to do so again on Saturday night at home against the Seattle Kraken.
In the meantime, it is our weekly look at Trending Penguins Players and there are not many people going in the right direction.
Who Is Hot
Jake Guentzel. I will put Jake in the hot category because he has scored two goals since returning to the lineup, is still on track for a potentially monster year offensively, and is one of the few players that has not wet the bed during the current streak. He is already up to five goals in seven games this season.
Brock McGinn and Josh Archibald. At least during 5-on-5 play. While I have my concerns about the fourth line long-term, they have been fine over the past week. McGinn has three assists and is a plus-three, while Archibald has a pair of goals and is plus-two. They are the only two forwards that are above water in terms of goals for and against over the past week. Credit where it is due.
Who Is Not
Kasperi Kapanen. This contract, as short as it is, still looks like it is going to age like milk. He has three goals in his past 50 games, and his ice-time is rapidly disappearing. I had some hope that he would be able to eventually put things together here and figure it out, especially after showing some promise at the end of the 2021-22 season, but there has not been anything there this season. The third line is one of the big problems right now, and he is a big part of that.
Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang. Dumoulin is the player that is REALLY struggling here, but Letang has had his issues lately as well. The pairing as a whole, as dependable as it has been for so many years, is just not working. I am much more confident that Letang will bounce back sooner than later, but I have little faith in Dumoulin at this point. It might be time for a new partner. During the six-game losing streak this duo has a sub-45 percent share of total shot attempts, scoring chances, high-danger scoring-chances, and expected goals, while they have been outscored 0-6 during 5-on-5 play. Woof.
Protecting leads. The Penguins had a 3-1 lead with only 36 minutes to play in Edmonton. They had a 5-2 lead, at home, with 28 minutes to play against Boston. They had a 3-1 lead with 16 minutes to play in Buffalo. Total points accumulated in those games: One point. The Penguins have already lost three games this season when leading after two periods. They lost only three such games all of the 2021-22 regular season. Puck management, defensive zone coverage, goaltending, penalty killing. All of it abandons them when trying to hold on.
The Penalty kill. They have allowed at least one goal in all but two games this season, are only 71.1 for the season (28th out of 32 teams in the NHL), and are also near the bottom of the league in terms of allowing shot attempts, shots on goal, scoring chances, and expected goals. You can not win with that level of penalty killing. Right now, the Penguins are not.
Goaltending. It is not even just the poor numbers. It is the fact that they are not even giving the Penguins a chance right now. Jarry has allowed 10 goals over his past two starts and was lousy against Boston when the Penguins simply needed him to be adequate to snap their losing streak. DeSmith has allowed six goals in his past two starts and is still trying to figure out where the puck is on Buffalo’s second and third goals from Wednesday night.