The Penguins are struggling. Name a player and they’re currently struggling or did at an earlier point in the year.
One guy that has seemed particularly snake-bitten in the early going is Jake Guentzel. He’s only a few months removed from leading the playoffs in goal scoring and would’ve garnered a lot of Rookie of the Year consideration had he started the year in Pittsburgh.
Yet, some people are worried he was a one-time fluke. This is to tell you he’s not.
Guentzel has some serious talent and comes from a hockey family that won’t allow for him to be a failure. Guentzel is a young breath of fresh air for Sidney Crosby who has had to deal with a lot of guys who weren’t as offensively gifted over the years as Guentzel is. We all love Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis but they didn’t have anywhere near the lethal shot that Guentzel possesses.
Despite only scoring 4 goals and 9 points in the team’s first 17 games, Guentzel showed some signs on Tuesday night that maybe things were on the upswing.
You could argue that recently Guentzel hadn’t been getting really good looks at the net. This is a problem Crosby has seemingly suffered from early on as well. Guentzel finally got a sweet opportunity but received it on his off hand as it was bouncing and couldn’t pull the trigger in time. He actually put a really solid shot on net regardless but Antti Rantta made a really strong save.
Guentzel also seemed to be more engaged at going to the net on Tuesday, something he hadn’t been doing much of recently. A scorer’s best scoring area is in close to the net and Guentzel needs to push back into that area.
With the training camp and postseason run Crosby, Guentzel, and Conor Sheary enjoyed, it wasn’t expected that they would be separated this early into the season. With only 17 games played, there is no reason that Guentzel won’t find himself and avoid the sophomore slump.