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Insider Only Malkin’s lack of production at even strength a concern?

*Pittsburgh’s third leading scorer is not Bill Guerin, Chris Kunitz or even Jordan Staal. It’s Alex Goligoski whose 4 goals and 7 assists ranks him tied for fourth among NHL defensemen in points.
Goligoski has a 6 game points streak and despite some defensive short-comings, Goligoski is producing at a Sergei Gonchar pace (8 points in 9 games).
*Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are tied for the team lead in points with 14 but the difference between the two is that Evgeni Malkin is struggling to get points at even strength.
By comparison, Crosby has 10 even strength points, while 9 of Malkin’s 14 points have come on special teams.
The organization would like for Chris Kunitz to put the puck in the net on a more consistent basis, but the line of Kunitz – Crosby – Guerin has good chemistry and they play off of each other very well. Kunitz and Guerin open space for Crosby.
Malkin’s creating plenty of opportunities, but his lack of production at even strength can be put on the shoulders of his wingers.

He doesn’t have that physical presence like a Chris Kunitz, who can skate, fore-check and play a puck possession game and there’s not a Bill Guerin on his wing who can provide a net presence.
*Ruslan Fedotenko and his agent Allan Walsh decided to return to Pittsburgh on a year deal because they saw a prime opportunity to cash in next season.
Despite playing well in the playoffs, Fedotenko didn’t receive an offer over $2.4 million per season. Therefore, Fedotenko opted for a one year deal from Pittsburgh over a two year deal from Minnesota and a three year deal from LA.
He’s a player that needs to perform better but Fedotenko has only scored 20 goals or more, once in his career. Regardless of whose he’s playing with, he is what he is; A streaky scorer who plays a strong two-way game.
* Pascal Dupuis, a whipping boy from fans but in talking to team officials this week, they have been very pleased with the role Dupuis is playing.
How Ray Shero operates is that he evaluates his team for the first 15-20 games, then explores what moves he may have to make.
Shero is going to stay the course until Max Talbot returns and then evaluate the Penguins winger situation on the second line as the trade deadline approaches.
Two internal options include giving Jordan Staal more even strength time with Malkin along with Tyler Kennedy getting reps with the second line
Staal has three goals and two assists on the year. During a three game goal scoring streak, Staal and Malkin saw 6-to-8 shifts together at even strength.
Bylsma though has gone away from that in recent weeks. As for Tyler Kennedy, Pittsburgh likes him on that third line too much.
But, if the second line continues to struggle at even strength, a coach has to play to his super-star not his role players and all options should be considered.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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