Well that was not a particularly good game on Thursday night, or a particularly good stretch of hockey from the Pittsburgh Penguins over the past week.
I do not have all of the answers to things (or any answers, really) but I do know this: The NHL, NBA, and MLB seasons are far too long to live and die with every game and get angry over every loss, bad game, or even small losing streak. Sometimes you are going to play like garbage for a few games. The good teams eventually figure it out and get it right. I think the Penguins are a good team, and they will eventually get back on track from whatever this has been lately. Maybe you do not like hearing that because you want see it to every game, but consistency is a myth. Seasons are peaks and valleys filled with great play, average play, and bad play at different moments.
But even with that said, these past few games have not been very good, with Thursday’s 6-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils being what was probably one of their worst games of the season. They had their chances at times, sure, but that was a brutal start and you just can not have that.
A lot of players are struggling right now. Is anybody not struggling right now? We take a look at all of that in this week’s Trending Penguins Players.
Who Is Hot
Sidney Crosby. He had a lousy game in Toronto, but that was an obvious outlier. You can always count on him to bring it and outside of that game against the Maple Leafs he has at least one point in 15 of his past 17 games, including seven multi-point games. He has been one of the most productive players in the league since returning to the lineup and getting his feet back under him. What a player.
The power play is scoring goals. There are still some very serious flaws here to be sure, and at times it looks BAD, but they are at least scoring goals, and are responsible for the past two goals the Penguins have scored this week. So that is something, especially after the way it started the season.
Who Is Not
Kasperi Kapanen. Not really sure what else there is to say at this point. I have been in his corner longer than most, but it is just not working right now for him no matter what line they put him on. At least Evan Rodrigues is showing some signs of getting out of his rough stretch by generating more shots on goal and seemingly creating more chances. Kapanen just has nothing going on here. He has one point in his past 14 games and that was when an Evgeni Malkin pass deflected off of Kapanen’s skate into the net. He has just 22 shots on goal over that stretch and more than one shot on goal in only five of those games. He has more than two shots on goal in just two of those games.
The Penalty Kill. Man did this unit start to struggle when Teddy Blueger left the lineup. Over the past month (without Blueger) they are just 73.3 percent on the penalty kill over their past 12 games. That is 25th in the NHL during that stretch. This was the absolute best unit in the league prior to the start of that stretch.
Jeff Carter. The Penguins are not getting much secondary scoring during this stretch and Carter is a big part of that with just one goal in his past 12 games. The good news, though, is I think this is more a result of some bad luck than anything else as he still has 32 shots on goal during that stretch (nearly three per game). Somebody with his shot and talent is eventually going to start finding the back of the net again as long as he keeps generating shots on goal. Not too terribly concerned about this right now.
John Marino and Marcus Petterrsson. This is typically one of the Penguins best defense pairings and, quite honestly, one of the better ones in the league. Individually, neither player is a star or a game-changer but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and they typically play very well together. That has not been the case this week, and that was especially true on Thursday night against New Jersey. Over the past 10 games the Penguins have only scored two goals with this pairing on the ice during 5-on-5 play, and over the past five games they have been outscored 1-5 with them on the ice. They can be better. They have been better.