The Pittsburgh Penguins have accumulated about 50 points in 38 games and they sit in the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference. Their record is 8-2-0 in the last 10 games, showing that their success does not depend on the missing star players.
The Penguins’ latest string of success can be attributed to many things. However, one important component is the offense. The offense has continually improved upon their play, they are persistent, they drive the net, and they are incredibly consistent.
The few players that deserve recognition thus far in the season, happen to be the top point-scorers for the team. Without considering their point totals, their dynamic styles of play have elevated the team and could help the Penguins reach long-term success moving into the second half of the season.
Jake Guentzel’s Persistence and Consistency
Guentzel was recently chosen to participate in the NHL All-Star game for the first time and he has been thriving during this regular season. He has tallied 40 points total, 19 goals, and 21 assists. Most of all, Guentzel has found a place on the team without his captain and fellow linemate, Sidney Crosby, and developed a reputation as being a star player himself.
Since Crosby has been out with an injury, Guentzel has noticeably stepped-up to help the team by being a consistent offensive force. It’s important to note though that he does not depend on Crosby and his play is exceptional on its own.
Jake’s an unbelievable player on his own. He’s not riding Sid’s coattails or anything like that. He’s his own player. He makes his own plays. He’s a goal scorer. He does a lot of things good for us… He’s earned the respect around the League, I think, of being someone you have to watch.
Jared McCann on Guentzel
Guentzel’s offensive style has developed over the years and he progressively gets better the more he plays. In addition to his style overall, he also improves the power play dynamic. He has scored the most goals in for the team during power plays and he produces chances for his other teammates like Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust.
Evgeni Malkin’s Fire and Leadership
After Malkin’s performance last season, he vowed to do better. Right now, he is doing just that. He has scored 13 points in the last eight games, and 35 points in 25 games. He has been successfully carrying the offense and leading the team into a time period filled with strength and success.
With so many players out of the lineup the depth is going to be put to the test, and even if they pass that test they are still going to struggle to produce goals. The X-factor is having an all-time great in the middle of your lineup that can take over games. Malkin is that player.
Malkin’s goal of redemption has only been helping the Penguins. His play has been more aggressive and more energetic; he chases the puck and steals it away from his opponents, and takes shots as opportunities arise. Now, his play has not been flawless but he most definitely improved upon his performance from last year and therefore impacting others’ play as well.
He has the X-factor and his leadership helps his other teammates reach their most potential. Without Malkin as a leader, the team would be drastically different. With the captain being injured, his role is exceptionally crucial.
Bryan Rust’s Drive
Rust started out as an unsung hero. He developed his play, starting as a player who made goals during the playoffs, to being the most driven and consistent player this season. Rust has tallied 30 points in 24 games, having the third-most points on the team and he is only improving.
Offensively, he probably has more confidence now than he’s ever had. He’s making more plays. He’s hanging onto pucks. He’s doing a lot of the little things that offensive players do to help them score.
In addition to his consistency, Rust’s speed has hastened the team and his drive has allowed for more game-clinching goals. His place on the team has grown in importance because he sets up goals for his teammates while pushing himself to do well individually. His motivation and drive has helped the team do better. Ultimately, he set himself up to be one of the best offensive players on the team.
All-in-all, the Penguins are in a winning season, while facing adversity along the way. So far, they’ve come out on the other side pretty successful. They have arguably one of the best offensive lineups this season compared to their more recent seasons, and that is attributed to these key players above.