The Penguins were struggling last week (uhh ya think?) That happens to everyone. The concerning piece though is they’re down sloping at the time when you need an uptick. 3 consecutive wins including over the Columbus Blue Jackets has thankfully changed this description.
Now it is really easy to just say the Pens are getting through all of these injuries and that’s certainly true. But its team doesn’t need excuses like that.
There are some glaring problems in defensive let downs (not talking about the goalies), yet it’s not 1 player that is a reason for this slide.
I think there is an intricate key on this team that can change the tides, and that is Phil Kessel. He gets on back, the rest of the team can see a boost.
Because of many absences, numerous guys have needed to move into roles that they haven’t played as much, meaning they were relied upon for added production and skates to fill. Scoring, defense, whatever it is, sometimes when you move a great 4th line center all the way to the 2nd line, he can impact positively for a while, but only for a prolonged period.
Matt Cullen for instance was a guy who scored more than he was in his career, Nick Bonino was a on fire in March, but if we’re expecting them to consistently be our top 3 leading point producers moving forward than I think the Penguins may not be playing after the 1st round. Cullen and Bonino are great for the Penguins in the roles they’re meant to play, but that’s not top 5 scoring. Their offense is complimentary, though Bonino can be used affectively.
On that opposing side of a great month from Nick Bonino, his teammate and, sometimes, linemate Phil Kessel had just 1 goal in entirety of March.
You are not seeing that wrong, he had 1 goal last month. He has been grabbing assists but we all know Phil Kessel is a goal scorer 1st and foremost (and a Stanley Cup champion).
Has he fallen off?
No, he’s still getting his shots, they’re just unfortunately not going in as of recent.
I feel like the Penguins have had times where they have (metaphorically speaking) thrown the punches that will knock a guy down, but not that last blow to not knock him out. I feel Kessel is that TKO waiting to happen. His luck has gotta be going in his favor soon.
At least his only March goal came on St. Pattys Day:
By the way, this probably has to be the coolest assist he’s ever gotten:
The ongoing cadence has been for to wait for the guys to get back in the lineup.
We know Evgeni Malkin is gonna put points on the board for us. Fans are happy Bryan Rust is back to help his other young friends. Kris Letang, Trevor Daley and so on, we know the offense that these defenseman bring to the ice.
Phil Kessel, though, is the 1 that moves the dynamic from being good to great, 3 scoring lines to 4 scoring lines, and from the 5th floor to the penthouse.
If you don’t think so, look again at his performance during all of the 2016 playoffs.
They will want that again for 2017 and a repeat. Get Phil Kessel going and there are no limitations for the Pens in what they do or who they want to use to attack you. They’re creatively difficult to pair with for the entirety of a seven game series.