With only two games this week the Pittsburgh Penguins did not get much of a chance to fix some of their recent problems, but they did get some much-needed time off. That produced a 4-0 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night that saw winger Jake Guentzel hit the 40-goal mark for the second time in his career and Casey DeSmith playing the best game of his career.
We take a look at those two things and more in this week’s edition of Trending Penguins Players.
Who Is Hot
Jake Guentzel. Just a sensational hockey player. His hat trick on Thursday night helped him reach the 40-goal mark for the second time in his career, reaching it in just 72 games. Since the start of the 2018-19 season Guentzel has now scored 123 goals in 248 games. That averages out to a 40.5 goal pace per 82 games, making him one of the absolute best pure goal scorers in the NHL. He has been especially productive over the past two weeks with seven goals, four assists, and 11 total points in the Penguins’ past six games.
Casey DeSmith. He stopped all 52 shots he faced in the 4-0 win over the Bruins on Thursday night, and even though he had a terrible start in the first two minutes of Saturday’s game he rebounded well to still give the Penguins a chance. Since the start of March he has a .930 save percentage in his nine appearances, and a .948 save percentage in his five appearances since the start of April. This is an encouraging development not only because it is a 180 turn around from what we saw from him earlier in the season, but also because the Penguins might have to open the Stanley Cup Playoffs with him as the starting goalie due to the current injury to regular starting goalie Tristan Jarry.
Danton Heinen. He seems to be playing his way out of the doghouse lately. Or at least scoring his way out of it. After seeing his role greatly reduced for a few weeks, he has bounced back over the past few games with goals in three of his past four games and some pretty strong shots on goal numbers despite the lack of minutes. He has 17 goals this seasoan, which is a pretty good number given his contract. Not perfect. Not great. But pretty good.
Who Is Not
Jeff Carter. I have not liked Carter’s game for a while now, and even though he has a few goals recently there is not much there outside of that. His line, no matter who his wingers are or who is centering him, has been consistently outplayed. The Penguins need more from him or they need less of him.
Mark Friedman. With Marcus Pettersson struggling there is an opening there for Friedman to take a more increased role. He has not taken advantage of that opportunity. After a promising stretch when he was re-inserted back into the lineup he has taken a bit of a step back since then and is now once again the odd-man out on defense.
Kasperi Kapanen. Kapanen had a stretch in late March where he started to produce again and look like a contributor, but that has again gone away over the past few weeks. He has just one point (an assist) in his past 11 games and has managed only three shots on goal over the past six games, including three games with zero shots on goal. He has not had more than one shot on goal in a game since April 7 against the New York Rangers. Just not enough here in any way.