Kunitz not making excuses
There are goal-scoring droughts, funks, slumps and skids.
And then there is what Chris Kunitz is enduring.
The Penguins left wing has yet to register a goal in 11 games this season and has only scored once in his past 40 outings. Kunitz might be down on himself, but the Penguins are certainly supporting him.
"There is no excuse for it," Kunitz said. "I feel like I'm playing well, and being streaky is something I've been through over the years. But, like I said, there's no excuse for it."
If the Penguins are growing frustrated with Kunitz, they aren't showing it. He has played with captain Sidney Crosby and right wing Bill Guerin in each of those 40 games, and there is no indication the Penguins are considering making a change to their top unit.
"He's going to be fine," Guerin said.
Crosby, widely considered the best playmaking center in hockey, has not recorded an assist on a linemate's even-strength goal all season.
"All three of us want the line to be successful," Guerin said. "We know what we have to do. We just have to keep working."
Guerin is the team's oldest player and often the locker room's voice of wisdom.
Does he have any advice for Kunitz?
"Slumps are tough," he said. "Trust me, I've been through them many times. If a guy wants to talk, I'm always here to talk. I understand what he's going through, and I think he'll work it out on his own."
Kunitz is without question a streaky point producer.
After being traded to the Penguins along with prospect Eric Tangradi for defenseman Ryan Whitney in February, Kunitz produced five goals and six assists in 10 games. Guerin was added to the mix a few days later, and the Penguins top line began to click.
Kunitz, however, scored only once during the playoffs. His overall game was so strong that the Penguins never considered taking him off the top line.
"He just always plays good hockey," Guerin said.
There is an element of opportunity and pressure that comes with playing on Crosby's line. Wingers are expected to be productive when playing with centers like Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
"You can definitely view it as pressure," Guerin said. "But honestly, Sid just wants you to play your game, and that's what (Kunitz) will keep doing. The goals will come."
Kunitz was one of the few Penguins to record a couple of quality opportunities against the Devils in Saturday's 4-1 loss.
"I've had some bad bounces," he said. "The thing for me is just to go to the net and keep it simple. You know you're going to get chances with Sid on your line."
Kunitz scored only two goals in the first 20 games of last season while playing with Anaheim.
The Penguins captain believes Kunitz's funk is almost over.
"He's actually generated a lot of chances in the last couple of games," Crosby said. "That's always a good sign. For him, it's just a matter of time."Additional Information:
Is the end near?
Chris Kunitz hasn't scored many goals lately, but holidays tend to bring out his best production. So, playing on Halloween against Minnesota on Saturday could be a good thing.
Kunitz's last three goals:
• St. Patrick's Day vs. Boston
• April Fool's Day vs. New Jersey
• Memorial Day weekend vs. Carolina