Pittsburgh Penguins: Who's Hot, Who's Not?
After four full weeks of NHL action, and since the Pittsburgh Penguins are on a four day hiatus from the ice, it's time to take a look at who's hot and who's not so far this year for the Pens.
Evgeni Malkin has picked up right where he left off last year. Malkin leads the Penguins, and the NHL, with 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) through 12 games.
Gino wore the "A" for the first time in Pittsburgh during October, and he responded to the leadership position with a very impressive first month of the season.
Two of Malkin's goals have come on the power play, and his first goal of the season was a shorthanded tally against the Ottawa Senators in Sweden.
Malkin has been the power play catalyst in Sergei Gonchar's absence. Without his team-leading 48 shots on goal, the Penguins might not have hit double digits in the shots on goal department on their recent West Coast stint.
Miroslav Satan was expected to fill the shoes of Marian Hossa. With his team-leading six goals, Satan is quickly proving wrong the critics who said his career was nearing its end.
Satan hasn't seen much time on the Penguins' top line, but four of his six goals have come on the man advantage.
Satan was reunited with Sidney Crosby in the Penguins' last game against the Blues, and he responded by scoring a goal and adding two assists for his most impressive performance as a Penguin.
Tyler Kennedy is ranked fourth among Penguins with seven points (three goals, four assists) and is proving himself worthy of an NHL roster spot.
Kennedy scored two goals on the Pens' Euro Trip and added another against the Blues on Saturday night.
TK plays with a fiery aggression every second he is on the ice, which makes him a valuable asset at either the center or wing position.
Alex Goligoski wasn't expected to fill the role of either Sergei Gonchar or Ryan Whitney on the Penguins' blue line, but he certainly has exceeded all expectations early in the season.
Gogo has three goals and an assist in 11 games for the Pens, and if he continues to play well, it will make Michel Therrien's decision to demote him to the minors once Whitney returns a very tough one.
Marc-Andre Fleury and Dany Sabourin have been sensational between the pipes for the Pens.
The Penguins are among the league's worst in the shots against department, which has placed a lot of strain on their goaltenders early in the season.
Fleury has responded by posting a 2.34 goals against average and a .925 save percentage, while winning five of his ten starts.
Sabourin has been just as, if not more impressive than Fleury. Sabou has a 1-1 record, with a 1.45 goals against average and a .957 save percentage in two games.
The Penguins look to finally have solved the goaltender problem that has plagued them up until last season. If these two guys stay healthy and the Penguins continue to produce offensively, Pittsburgh is going to steal a lot of close games.
Despite leading all Penguin defensemen with five points, Kris Letang has failed to find the back of the net this season.
The Penguins were looking to Letang to supply more offense from the blue line, especially in the absence of Gonchar and Whitney.
Letang has begun carrying the puck through the neutral zone a little more over the last week and his goals will come, but only if he shoots the puck more often. Letang has registered just 13 shots on goal, a statistic that coach Therrien has stressed needs improvement.
Petr Sykora has only played in nine of the Penguins' 12 games so far this year, recording just one goal and three assists.
Sykora has recently been placed back on Malkin's wing on the second line, which should increase his production, but Sykie is struggling to put pucks on the net.
Sykora has just 11 shots, and has broken his stick during several scoring opportunities. Go wooden Sykie, go wooden.
Jordan Staal scored his first goal of the season on Saturday in St. Louis...into an empty net.
Staal has been struggling to score goals this season, despite playing alongside Satan on the majority of his shifts.
Staal has 19 shots on goal, but hasn't really had any great scoring chances. The youngster is coming off of a sluggish sophomore season last year and needs to resurrect that shorthanded passion that led to his rookie-record nine shorthanded goals two seasons ago.
Hal Gill isn't exactly off to the hot start that the Penguins had hoped for.
Gill had failed to record a point in eight games before being sidelined with a hand injury. Gill returned to the lineup in St. Louis and looked energized, picking up his first assist of the season.
Gill isn't expected to be a consistent offensive defenseman, but he is expected to make good breakout passes out of the defensive zone, generating rushes up the ice, something he has yet to do.
So that's it for the October edition of Who's Hot and Who's Not. The Penguins are starting to work out their line combinations and generate some more chemistry on the ice.
Evgeni Malkin is still the best player in the league and Sidney Crosby had a decent, but not phenomenal, first month of the season. Sid will pick up his game, especially if he is playing with Satan on a regular basis, and, barring an injury, should finish among the league leaders in points.
Oh, and at the very least, he'll finish with more points than Alexander Semin.
Let's Go Pens .
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