During this injury-ridden stretch for the Pittsburgh Penguins, many thought this team was dead to rights. With injuries to Sidney Crosby, Brian Dumoulin, Patric Hornqvist, Justin Schultz, Nick Bjugstad, and Jake Guentzel, everyone was left looking at who was going to step up.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of five key players who have not only stepped up, but have performed above and beyond.
Although Matt Murray isn’t injured, he hasn’t quite lived up to the two-time Stanley Cup winning expectations everyone knows he can. During Jarry’s stint as the starting goaltender, he has posted a league-leading goals against average at 1.99, as well as save percentage at .935
In the 20 games Jarry has seen action, the team is 13-6-1. We recently saw his six-game winning streak come to an end in an overtime loss against San Jose on January 2nd. Without the services of Jarry, the Penguins might be close to the basement of the Metropolitan division.
The Penguins acquired Marino on July 29th over the offseason from Edmonton in exchange for a conditional draft pick. The rookie has since been inserted into the starting lineup on October 8th and has shown incredible defensive prowess and poise.
Over the 40 games he has played, Marino is a +14; second among Penguin defenseman behind the inured Brian Dumoulin. Marino has also shown his potential on offense with 19 points; only behind Kris Letang for defensive scoring.
Throughout his career, Rust has been known as a grinder who is a bit streaky when it comes to scoring. After returning from his injury, he had a three game goal streak, as well as a season-high five game point streak.
During his 28 games, Rust has 34 points (17 goals and 17 assists), which averages out to roughly 1.3 points per game. On defense, he has posted a +18 and has blocked his fair share of shots.
On June 15th, General Manager Jim Rutherford sent over defenseman Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Dominik Kahun. Kahun started out of the gates slow for the Penguins, and many questioned if he would continue to be on the team. That was until we began to see him get comfortable, which then resulted in timely goals and points.
Over the season, Kahun has given the Penguins 21 points (9 goals and 12 assists), which is gravy coming from a third line winger. He is currently filling in the role of fan favorite Carl Hagelin. battles is why he is on this list.
We can all agree that last year was one to forget for fans, as well as for Evgeni Malkin. During Crosby’s untimely injury, Malkin has stepped into the captain’s role.
He has put up 39 points, which is second on the team behind the injured Jake Guentzel. To go along with his uncanny leadership, Malkin also posted a career milestone by becoming the fourth Penguin to score 400 career goals.
This team, lead by potential Jack Adams award winner in head coach Mike Sullivan, is a testament to how far speed, grit, and determination can get you. As stated previously, not many expected Pittsburgh to perform this well without key players in their lineup. One can only imagine how much better they will be as a team when Crosby, among others, return.
Photo Credit- Omaha World-Herald