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Friday, August 12, 2022
Home Sports NHL Secondary Scoring a Concern - Pittsburgh Penguins - PenguinPoop Blog

Secondary Scoring a Concern – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog


During the Penguins’ victory over the Flyers on Tuesday night, I was encouraged to discover that ten different black-and-gold skaters registered at least one point. These days, that sort of production from up and down the lineup has been rarer than a Liberty Head Nickel in mint condition.

Since the start of the New Year, our big guns have been blazing hot, and I mean blazing. Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust are all scoring at a point per game clip or better. During that span they’ve combined for 45 of the team’s 77 non-shootout goals, or 58 percent of the team’s production. In February, 61 percent.

However, the flip side is also true. Our secondary scorers have gone stone cold.

How cold you ask?

Following a 16-game stretch in which he tallied 19 points (including nine goals), Evan Rodrigues has no goals and a paltry three assists in his past 18 games. Since he last scored an excuse-me goal off his skate against Winnipeg on January 23, Kasperi Kapanen has zero points in nine games. Stretching back to mid-December, he’s just potted two goals in 22 games.

Brock McGinn has just one goal and three assists in his past 16 games… while spending a significant amount of time skating alongside Malkin on the second line. Jeff Cartertwo goals in his last 15. The poster child for non-producers, Zach Aston-Reesea lone goal in 42 games!

Heck, with two goals and five points in his past 13, Danton Heinen’s been positively on fire by comparison.

You get the picture. It is not pretty. If it were not for the surprisingly strong play of 37-year-old Brian Boyle and the fourth line of late, the Pens would be almost bereft of secondary scoring from among the forwards.

Ironically, this was not the case early in the season. With Crosby, Malkin and Rust all spending significant time on IR, the Pens leaned heavily on a score-by-committee approach.

The following table highlights the dramatic dip in secondary scoring over the past couple of months.

Core *

Secondary Forwards

Defense minus Letang

Month

Goals

% of Total

Goals

% of Total

Goals

% of Total

October

2

7.7

21

80.8

3

11.5

November

12

33.3

24

66.7

0

0.0

December

8

28.6

17

60.7

3

10.7

January

34

57.6

20

33.9

5

8.5

February

11

61.1

5

27.8

2

11.1

Total

67

40.1

87

52.1

13

7.8

* Core includes Crosby, Guentzel, Letang, Malkin and Rust

One-line teams do not go very far in the playoffs. Obviously, the Pens would benefit greatly from a more balanced attack.

To that end, coach Mike Sullivan appears to be giving the middle-six a much needed shake up. At practice yesterday he shifted Carter to right wing alongside Malkin and McGinn. Rodrigues was inserted at center… perhaps his best position… between Heinen and Kapanen.

In particular, E-Rod and Kappy displayed great chemistry earlier this season. In the five games they skated together, the former tallied three goals and three assists and the latter four goals and an assist… including a hat trick. They seemed well on their way to developing into one of the “duos” Sullivan likes so well when he somewhat surprisingly broke them apart.

Hopefully, they’ll help jump-start each other’s game. With the tough part of their schedule looming, the Pens could sure use the production.





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