The Pittsburgh Penguins entered tonight’s contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs having won 10 games in a row. On this run, Sidney Crosby has scored not only in all 10 games but pre-dated his scoring streak by six games. Similarly both Crosby and the Pens extended their streak as the team continues to run as a powerhouse despite superstar Evgeni Malkin missing his third consecutive games.
No Malkin, no problem. Let’s not forget the injuries to Jordan Staal and Mike Comrie. Essentially half of the expected top two lines have gone down with injuries.
The Penguins are currently fourth in the League in goals scored, averaging a 3.03 per game. More incredibly Crosby has almost double the points and has three times the points of any other Pen. The points of both of his linemates add up to 18 points less than his current 48 points.
But not everything can be attributed to just Crosby, the essentially lesser-known names on the team have performed very well.
Kris Letang is tied for second in the League in scoring for a defenseman, making him second in voting (first amongst defenseman) for the All-Star Game. These two clearly have overshadowed Staal and Malkin while covered for the once-struggling Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury started the season 1-6 before actually turning his season around with ten straight wins and posting his lowest GAA in three years.
Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis have also stepped up to the plate, lining up next to Crosby. Although he does not pad their stats as much as expected, they provide solid forechecking, speed and grit which allow their superstar to play his game to the fullest. Other solid grinders like Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy and the surprise Mark Letestu have continued to chip in– especially tonight as he came close to a hat trick.
With all this talent and chemistry the team only needed to play two periods. Over the first two frames the team held the Leafs to only 10 shots on goals and naturally all saves. In the third the team was outscored 2-1 despite being outshot 15-2. Simply put, the way the team is going they cannot be stopped even if they don’t show up.
Tonight was just like a summary of the Pens’ season: impressive. If you play in deep pools, the team has spread out their scoring so a Cooke or Letestu would certainly be safer than a busting but more highly touted prospect.