The Penguins have a record of 22-10-1. One point behind the Capitals, and even with the Devils in the East. When you look at all of the things that are going on with this team, injury-wise and stat-wise, you have to wonder — how did they achieve this outstanding record? On the injury chart — Talbot has missed 2/3 of the season, Kennedy about half, Gonchar, Kunitz, Goligoski, and Letang all around a third of the season, Malkin-6 games and Orpik – 4 games. The Penguins played a few games with a defensive corps that was comprised of a group from Wilkes-Barre. Somehow they managed to get through all of these setbacks. There have been some long stretches of little or no production from many players thus far. The powerplay is a joke at best. Solving it is a topic for another time. The numbers should be mentioned, however — 19 for 140, a 13.6% conversion rate – good enough for 29th in the league. (My feelings about Mike Yeo have been documented.)
Let’s look at some disappointing individual production. Talbot – one goal in 12 games since his return. Letang – one goal in 24 games. Kunitz – three goals in the 20 games he has played. Fedetenko was invisible until last night. Malkin – nine goals this season. Other than Malkin, who will be well below his usual production, the players mentioned are looking at single digit goal production for the season. Some players such as Staal and Kennedy are doing their fair share. Crosby, Dupuis and Rupp have had very productive goal-scoring seasons to date.
Krundle brought to light some goalie stats that are amazing. Fleury’s goals-against average is 2.44, thirteenth in the league. His save percentage is .905, ranking him 31st overall. Shutouts for Fleury this season – zero. 33 goalies in the NHL have recorded shutouts this season. This is certainly a time to say that sometimes stats don’t tell the whole story. Yes, these numbers are less than impressive, but here is where I disagree with Krundle. Fleury has been a big part of every victory that he has earned this season. It is not always how many saves, but when he makes them. Fleury makes the saves at crucial times in games. I believe that solid goaltending is the biggest reason for the team’s success so far this season. Without Fleury, the Penguins are an above-average hockey team. With him, they are at the top.
What does all of this mean? It should mean bad news for the rest of the NHL. If the powerplay gets going at any reasonable rate, the Penguins remain healthy, and the group of guys who are currently lost find themselves, the Penguins record the rest of the way can only get better. The objective of this season is to get as many home games as possible once the cup defense begins.
Sunday views from E-11.
Note – Did anyone ever hear JayCaufield finish a thought?
Note – Did I mention – fire Steigerwald?