- The Pittsburgh Penguins had a five game win streak earlier this season. They’ve managed to play .500 hockey before and since that streak to sit 15-10-2. This is despite a noticeable decline in goals per game, power play percentage, and point production from stars such as Crosby, Kessel, and Letang. Many have seen the record and pointed to the stats as the cause, projecting an angle of doom to Pens fans. I see the record as a sign of hope and things that may be to come this season. Even without the firepower clicking this team found a way to stay five games above .500. As slow as Kessel’s start has been he’s still on pace for almost 30 goals, and we all know how streaky he can be. It’s only a matter of time before he gets hot, especially on a line now with Malkin who when he’s wanted to this season has been able to single handedly pad the possession Corsi stats. The biggest blessing in disguise for the Penguins might prove to be the injury to Letang. For all intents and purposes he’s been out of the lineup for the whole season so far but his physical presence has still allowed the guys around him to have an attitude of waiting for him to get back to normal. I described the Penguins last week as a shallow team of dependence. Now being officially without Letang they can stop waiting for him and address how they might fill his role.
That brings us to Sidney Crosby. He’s been counted out this year already and this game against the surging Kings, currently on a five game winning streak of their own, hardly seems like the right place to look for a turnaround game. But that’s what makes the great players great. This has the potential to be one of those games we look back on as a pivotal moment for the Penguins this season. With the only key stone in a weak defence officially out, the best defence for Pittsburgh will be an all out offence, which is what they do best and what they need to get back to. The Kings will be up to the task of course and I hope for lots of scoring chances, very few whistles, a minimum three point night for Crosby and an unusually high goal total for both sides.