Another week has passed and it was another .500 week for the Penguins. They unfortunately lost defensemen Justin Schultz to a fractured leg. Matt Murray was lost to a concussion but did dress as the backup Saturday night. It wasn’t the best week but they did have some players with both good and bad performances.
Let’s discuss who’s stock rose and who’s went down after the second week of Penguins hockey.
The Penguins were forced to play Casey DeSmith this past week as they lost Murray due to a concussion suffered in practice. DeSmith took the opportunity to play and ran with it.
He was the Penguins’ best player, according to head coach Mike Sullivan, in his season debut against the Vegas Golden Knights. He stopped 35 shots of the Golden Knights’ 37 opportunities. He made a lot of high-danger saves as the defense in front of him was very below average.
DeSmith played well again in the Montreal shootout loss. He also looked a bit lost in the shootout as he has never played in an NHL shootout.
DeSmith has outplayed Murray so far. While that doesn’t change the goaltending situation, he is off to a 1-0-1 start with a .935 save percentage.
Centering the most consistent line of the early going, Evgeni Malkin is off to a great start. He has eight points in four games and seven of those are assists.
He is feeding sharpshooter Phil Kessel and using Carl Hagelin‘s speed and defensive prowess to his advantage. Being in the prime of his career, Malkin is playing on a line that suits him quite perfectly.
He posted 98 points last season, his highest since 2012-13’. He also played 78 games, something he hadn’t done since the 2008-09′ season. If he stays healthy, he is already proving he could be a top-10 player in points agai at season’s end.
He finally moved into the top-100 all-time in points. He’s trending upwards after a solid week.
It’s always concerning when one of the NHL’s premier players slumps. Crosby is still a point per game through four games in the early going. But if you are watching with the eye-test, it is clear that he doesn’t look like the same Crosby we know and love.
If the story goes as usually told, Crosby will hit a low point in which immediately turns into one of his dominant stretches we’ve seen in many instances in his career.
He started the season with Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist was bumped in favor of Derick Brassard, a weird move to make. They are trying anything to Crosby going which will happen anytime after November and assuredly come April and beyond.
For now, Crosby is trending in the wrong direction but don’t expect that to continue.
Daniel Sprong was on the opposite end of this spectrum last week. While he has three points in four games playing only 8:50 TOI/game so far, none of those have been goals. For a player with his shot, you’d love to see more production.
He is playing with Matt Cullen and Dominik Simon who aren’t the most offensively inclined players. That doesn’t help his production alone. Maybe he will start producing which is expected.
He also may need more of a shot from Sullivan by playing with guys who are offensively driven. Maybe another turn with Crosby and Guentzel can’t hurt.