Penguins Report

Richard Hillwig, Staff Writer

Some downs and some ups this season for the Penguins. The Penguins are 26-12-5 despite the long list of injuries that they still have. The main buzz around the city of Pittsburgh the last couple of days is when will Sidney Crosby return? Crosby has been skating individually, has skated in the non-contact practice and has practiced in full contact but there is still no time table on when he will return. “Anything is convinceable. We’re just trying to take each day as it comes and make the best decisions to allow for the rehab process to take place. When Sid is ready to play, we’ll insert him into the lineup,” said Head Coach Mike Sullivan at his press conference on if Crosby can play in either play in Colorado or Arizona. Even though Crosby didn’t play on the road trip, he participated in full-contact practice. Crosby’s return could be soon and was soon on January 14, 2020, he was announced that he would be playing against the Wild. 

Some other big news was announced on December 31, 2019. Penguins All-Star forward Jake Guentzel is going to miss 4 to 6 months, and the remainder of the regular season with surgery on his right shoulder. He got injured after he scored his 20th goal of the season and he was named to his first All-Star game. Guentzel got tied up with Thomas Chabot of the Senators after he scored and his right shoulder went hard into the boards. Guentzel immediately off the ice and into the dressing room for an evaluation. The next day, the Penguins said that Guentzel would miss the remainder of the regular season, but if the Penguins make the playoffs he could make a return to the team. 

Other names on the injured list are Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Justin Schultz (lower-body), and Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery). Bjugstad has been out since November 14 and expected to return soon. Schultz has been out since December 16 and is week to week, no time table for his return. Dumoulin has been out since November 29 and maybe could make his return soon. 

The Penguins have been on a roll winning 6 of their last 9 nine games, 4 of them coming against Western Conference opponents. 

@ Edmonton Oilers 5-2 W 

@ Vancouver Canucks 4-1 L

@ Nashville Predators 5-2 W

vs Nashville Predators 6-4 W

vs Ottawa Senators 5-2 W

vs San Jose Sharks 3-2 OTL 

@ Montreal Canadians W 3-2 OT 

vs Florida Panthers 4-1 L

@ Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 W

@ Colorado Avalanche 4-3 W

@ Arizona Coyotes 4-3 W SO

vs Minnesota Wild 7-3 W

@ Boston Bruins 4-1 L

@ Detriot Red Wings 2-1 OTW

vs Boston Bruins 4-3 W

@ Philidelphia Flyers 3-0 L


The Penguins beat the Wild by a score of 7-3 thanks to a four-point effort from Sidney Crosby. Crosby recorded 3 assists and 1 goal in his return to the lineup after missing 28 games since core muscle surgery. The Penguins without Crosby this year went 18-6-4. 

The Penguins play on home ice this year has been a key to their success without their best players. The goalie situation is going to be a problem down the road for the Penguins especially if they get into the playoffs. The two questions for Mike Sullivan down the stretch about the goalies will most likely be: Will you trust the consistency of Tristan Jarry with what he has been able to do? Or Will you trust the experience of Matt Murray winning two Stanley Cups?

There are six players that have stepped for the Penguins that have helped them win games. #6: Branden Tanev. Newcomer Branden Tanev has picked up his game since Guentzel has gone down with his shoulder surgery with goals in two of his last three games (both were the game-winning goals). Tanev has 10 goals in his first season in Pittsburgh (t-6th on the team), 22 points (9th on the team), 12 assists (11th on the team), and leads the team with two shorthanded goals with 2. Tanev has become a workhorse to begin this month and could be one for the rest of the season. 

#5: Kris Letang. Long Time Penguin Kris Letang may have his defensive struggles here and there, but he can be productive when it comes to scoring points and goals. Letang has 10 goals already this season and can get past his career-high which is 16 goals by the end of the season. He also has 31 points (4th on the team), and 21 assists (4th on the team). If he keeps putting up numbers like he is now, they’ll have enough front hand and backhand scoring to make a run in the playoffs.

#4: Patric Hornqvist. Veteran Patric Hornqvist has been quite productive since coming back from a lower-body injury against the Senators on December 31. He has scored 5 goals in the last 7 games that the Penguins have played, including 2 goals against the San Jose Sharks. Hornqvist has 11 goals on the season (5th on the team), 8 assists (14th on the team), and 19 points (11th on the team). If Hornqvist can put up at least 2 points in every 2 games for the rest of the season they will be in good shape. 

#3: Dominik Kahun. Dominik Kahun has been silently but deadly this year in his first season as a Penguin. Kahun currently has 10 goals on the year (t-6th on the team), 17 assists (t-6th on the team), and has 27 points on the season (6th on the team). Kahun is primed to have a big and career year this year, even though has only played in the league for 1 year. 

#2: Evgeni Malkin. Malkin’s numbers have been down this year compared to previous years. Malkin has 15 goals (3rd on the team), 35 assists (1st on the team) and 50 points (1st on the team). With the way the Penguins are rolling, when Crosby comes back he’ll take some of the pressure off of Malkin so he can start scoring more goals and creating more plays. 

#1: Bryan Rust. Rust is playing in his sixth year in the NHL, and this is arguably the best year of his career. Rust has put up career numbers this year in goals and points. Rust has 21 goals on the year (1st on the team), 22 assists (3rd on the team), and 43 points (t-2nd on the team). Rust has put up already career highs in some categories, in those categories he could smash what he already went past.   

The Penguins went into the All-Star break on the road 3 of 4 times. They were on the road against Boston on Thursday (4-1 L), and the road against Detriot on Friday (2-1 OTW), at home against Boston on Sunday (4-3 W), and on the road against Philadelphia on Tuesday the 21st (3-0 L). The Penguins are currently second in the division behind the Washington Capitals. The Capitals have 73 points and the Penguins have 67 points. The Penguins are only 6 points out of first in the division and out of being the #1 ranked team in the entire league.