Penguins looking for more production in scoring department
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin could use some help.
While the Penguins generally have been impressive in beginning their season with a 7-2 record, a lack of scoring depth — something that was a concern entering the season — is becoming evident.
On the rare night when Crosby and Malkin are silent offensively, as happened Monday against Colorado, the Penguins' lack of significant scoring depth is clear.
“It would be nice to get a goal from every line,” said coach Dan Bylsma, who did not note any dissatisfaction with his bottom six forwards.
In terms of physical play and puck possession, the bottom six have been playing well. There have been standouts, such as Tanner Glass (second in the NHL with 39 hits) and Craig Adams (three goals in the season's first four games).
However, seven players who have received ice time at forward this month have not scored a goal.
While Crosby (17 points) has been in otherworldly form through nine games and Malkin (nine points) has been productive, the other two regular centers — Brandon Sutter and Joe Vitale — are without a goal.
Although Bylsma would like to see more of his role players producing, he didn't seem upset with their performance against Colorado. The Penguins, after all, went 0 for 7 on the power play.
When including Colorado's three power plays, one-third of the game was spent on special teams, making it difficult for the Penguins' bottom-six players to establish anything. Plus, with the Penguins trailing in the final period, Crosby and Malkin double-shifted with regularity, as Bylsma pushed to even the score.
“There was not a good flow to the game five-on-five,” Bylsma said. “Probably three times in the first 40 minutes we actually had our lines together. The fourth line, in particular, saw a lot of Crosby and Malkin as their center.”
The good news for the Penguins is that help is on the way.
Two of the Penguins' most dynamic players — defenseman Kris Letang and right wing James Neal — should be back in the lineup soon. Another player, forward Beau Bennett, also could be back within the next few games.
Adding Neal (who is out at least one more week) and Bennett will make the forwards that much deeper, as Bennett figures to join Sutter on the third line. Also, Neal figures to join Malkin and Jussi Jokinen on what could be a terrific line.
“It's been tough without Nealer,” Malkin said. “Different linemates all the time.”
Letang's addition should augment the Penguins' transition game and help all of the forwards receive the puck on the rush.
“I'm definitely hoping to be back in the lineup soon,” Letang said. “It's not fun when you're not out there, not able to play.”
Nobody is playing better than Crosby. It also could be argued that no one has been more valuable to his team. Crosby has been on the ice for 15 of the Penguins' past 16 goals. He has scored or assisted on 12 of those goals.
“But I think we're fine,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “Against (Colorado), it was just one of those games. We're playing pretty good hockey.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New Penguin Kessel’s shot is what makes him special
- Russian winger Plotnikov could join Penguins in August
- Ex-teammates say Kessel unfairly criticized
- Penguins get their man in making trade with Toronto for Kessel
- Penguins’ Kessel ‘thrilled’ with chance to play with Crosby, Malkin
- Hurricanes owner rips Rutherford, Penguins
- Penguins notebook: Rutherford proves savvy in deal
- Penguins take winger Sprong in 2nd round, add 3 more forwards in NHL Draft
- Defenseman Martin’s agent planning meeting with Penguins at draft
- Starkey: Rutherford hits jackpot with Kessel
- Penguins sign defensive prospect