Why are the Penguins determined to add at least one top-6 forward prior to the March trade deadline and remain very interested in adding a third line winger by the deadline?…..Because they only have four top-6 forwards they can count on.
What I keep coming back to when evaluating the Penguins based on the post-season (which is what only matters) is that a main difference between the Penguins and defending Champion Chicago Blackhawks is that the Blackhawks are not as reliant on their superstar forwards.
As stated in the past, Chicago’s scoring depth is just on a different level and the question with the Penguins is whether they have enough scoring depth if a situation arises where they run into a hot goaltender and a team with an excellent penalty kill that shuts down the Penguins stars.
Jonathan Toews had just 3 goals and 14 points in 23 playoff games last season during the Hawks Cup run. The Penguins would not be able to survive if a Malkin or Crosby produced just 0.61 points per game throughout the course of the playoffs. Penguins brass knows this.
The Penguins run over the last six weeks has overlooked the fact that Jussi Jokinen is an extremely inconsistent player, a reason he fell out of favor in Carolina. Despite getting prominent top-6 minutes and some power play time, Jokinen has 1 goal in his last 25 games. He missed a great scoring opportunity yesterday mid-way through the third period to tie the game at 2-2 and right now he just isn’t finishing plays.
Jokinen has no goals in his last 15 games and just four even strength points during that span.
There’s no question, the Penguins only have four top-6 forwards they can count on in Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin and Neal.
The Penguins also can’t count on Beau Bennett at this point.
Due back after the olympics, the Penguins have no idea how productive Beau Bennett is going to be in returning from a serious wrist injury. A similar injury in college, it took Bennett around 18 months to get full strength back in his wrist. His shot was just starting to fully come back this season.