It was a little bit of a mixed bag this week for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they lost two games to the New York Rangers (one ugly loss, one close loss that could have gone either way), scored 11 goals against the Detroit Red Wings, and won a thriller against one of the hottest teams in the league in the Minnesota Wild.
They also had another potentially significant injury to balance things out because, well, that is just how these things seem to go.
We take a look at all of that and more in this week’s edition of Trending Penguins Players.
Who Is Hot
Evgeni Malkin. He did not play in the first Rangers game, but when he returned he went crazy with a hat trick against Detroit and the game-winning overtime goal against Minnesota on Thursday. For the week he had four goals and three assists for seven total points, as well as 12 shots on goal in just three games. He has been incredible this season and in his brief time with Rickard Rakell that duo has looked outstanding. Speaking of Rickard Rakell.
Rickard Rakell. It took him a few games to get settled in but now that he has he is making the exact impact the Penguins hoped for. He has three goals, two assists, and 10 shots on goal over the past four games, and is looking like somebody that can make a major impact in the top-six for the Penguins. His skill level is obvious and he always seems to be around the net making plays and creating chances. Love the potential here.
Brian Boyle. My expectations here were so low, but I really can not say enough good things about the way this signing has worked out. They do not ask him to play a major role — nor should they — but he has been outstanding in the role he has been given as a fourth-liner. He scored two goals this week and barring injury is probably going to reach double-digits this season, which is not something I thought possible in training camp.
Sidney Crosby. Not enough attention is being given to his season league-wide, which is wild to say because he is Sidney Crosby. But he has been literally one of the best offensive players in the league since the start of December. Right up there with McDavid, Matthews, and Draisaitl. Still got it.
Kasperi Kapanen. Fair is fair. We were all down on him for most of the season, and while he has not been great, I think he is playing some of his best hockey as of late. Maybe it is legitimately good. Maybe it is just in comparison to what he was doing prior. But there is definite improvement here.
Who Is Not
Jason Zucker’s luck. This sucks. I think he has played better than most this season, and he was making an immediate impact in his return on Thursday night until he was cross-checked from behind and could not leave under his own power. He can fill a pretty significant spot in the top-six, but just when it looked like everybody was going to be back, that happened.
Brian Dumoulin. I just have not liked his game this season, and I thought he was especially bad in the second Rangers game. He had a brutal turnover to lead to the Rangers’ first goal, and he has been making too many of those plays this season. He is either playing through something or this is where his career starts to really trend down. Think he might be the guy to shop this offseason instead of Marcus Pettersson or John Marino.
Evan Rodrigues. It has been a rough go for him over the past three months. Not a bad player. Still does a lot of good things. But he is probably never going to produce like he did in the first three months of the season, and he has been a bit of a drag on the top-six lately when he was still playing there. This is why a potential Zucker injury is so costly, because it might put him back there instead of in a third-line role where he is better suited for playing.