The Penguins are six games into the brand new season and they’ve already seen a roller coaster of results. One constant, though, has been the play of forward Bryan Rust.
Through the first six games, Rust has recorded eight points. He is tied with Sidney Crosby for a team high. Anytime your name is tied to Crosby’s, you are in pretty good company.
The only game Rust did not record a point in was the Chicago game. Not many people did in that contest.
It is shocking enough that Rust is scoring points at a rapid rate that is sure to slow down eventually. Perhaps, the even better part is that he is doing the things that don’t show up on the score sheet.
It’s tough to compare any ones speed to that of Carl Hagelin. Personally, I think Rust compares quite aptly, if not, might even be faster than Hagelin. Of course, Rust has a bit more scoring touch than Hagelin. But seeing Rust beat defenders outside who don’t have the chance to match his speed is something of a blessing.
I can count many times last season that he’d be in on a breakaway but could never finish. I am truthfully seeing a different player this time around.
Rust looks more complete on the ice. He might’ve even gotten a step faster. I see more willingness to shoot the puck and I see a much more methodical passer than in the previous two seasons. He just looks like he worked hard on the areas of his game that needed a bit of refining.
Playing in a top-6 role, Rust will be called upon to score frequently. He had 15 goals last season playing mostly with Evgeni Malkin and Crosby during the regular season. He only played 57 regular season games, though. He saw more time with Hagelin and Nick Bonino in last postseasons run. This season, he’s already seen time with both superstars.
Rust is going to be a key piece for the Penguins this season. If he stays healthy and plays upwards of 70 games, it’s fair to say he will score 20 goals and post 45 or more points. Keep your eye on him. Even if he isn’t putting up the points this consistently in December, watch for the little things like his speed and his willingness to win a puck battle in the corner. Those are things that don’t fade throughout a breakout year.