As mentioned above, the Penguins have the two best players in the world in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. If the Penguins plan on capturing Lord Stanley, their success will be determined first and foremost with the play and performance of both Crosby and Malkin. If they are able to generate offensive production like usual, everyone else will soon follow suit.
As stated, much of Pittsburgh's offensive success starts with Malkin and Crosby, but by NO means are the Penguins short on scoring! James Neal a 40 goal scorer last season, registered a hat trick in his first game back since his concussion, has provided the Penguins with an established sniper for Pittsburgh for years to come. Both Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis have been having career years during their time in Pittsburgh. Dupuis recorded his first career back to back 20 goal seasons and Kunitz finished 7th in the entire league in scoring with 52 points (22 G 30 A). It's no surprise both Dupuis and Kunitz lead the league in +/- respectively with +31(Dupuis) and +30(Kunitz). Add the additions at the trade deadline of Jarome Iginla(11 points in 13 games with PIT), Brendan Morrow(11 points in 12 games with PIT), and Jussi Jokinen(11 points in 10 games with PIT), the Penguins are clearly stacked in terms of offensive production. Not to mention, the Penguins have Kris Letang, whom is always up for the Norris Trophy(Leagues Best Defenseman) registered 38 points in 35 games played and Paul Martin has done a complete 180 and stepped up his game and tied a career best of 6 goals, a feat which he achieved in his rookie season, in which he played in more than twice as many games as this season!
Veteran Presence & Leadership
The Penguins had been lacking veteran leadership presence in the locker room ever since Bill Guerin's tenure with Pittsburgh came to an end. That was all taken care of, but not adding one, but two players who were captain of their teams when the Penguins acquired Jarome Iginla and Brendan Morrow. Both are hungry for a Stanley Cup Championship. Iginla was one win away back in 2004, and is now again in great position to fill that void in his illustrious career. Morrow is a playoff warrior as evident of his 2008 playoff performance( 6 goals, 9 assists 15 points in 18 games played) which was also the last time Morrow made it to the playoffs! Each will have huge drive and hunger to capture Lord Stanley and with this extra motivation for both, this makes the Penguins as a whole all the more dangerous!
Whenever the Penguins offense is having a slow night, the defense has stepped up their game and have contributed in a big way. During the Penguins 15 game win streak, Pittsburgh held its opponents to one goal or less nine times, four of which came in shutout fashion. The additions of Mark Eaton and trade deadline acquisition Douglas Murray have injected new life into the Pittsburgh defense.
Special Teams (PP & PK)
Pittsburgh's Powerplay(PP), though at times have gone into dry spells, is nevertheless, loaded with scoring and fire power which should and more than likely, will drastically improve its power play. Especially when you have likes of; Malkin, Crosby, Iginla, Letang, Neal on one unit and; Morrow, Kunitz, Sutter, Martin, Jokinen on another, with the possibility of Dupuis, Niskanen, Cooke, Kennedy, Bennett, Despres, you have the formulas for lethal powerplay combinations. For the Penalty Kill(PK), Pittsburgh has always been at the top of the league. Starting with PK specialist Matt Cooke and Craig Adams, Shutdown D-men Orpik and Murray, as well as Tanner Glass's big body and help from even Sidney Crosby himself, the Penguins PK is very diverse.
Marc Andre Fleury will more than likely get the nod as the starting netminder. Fleury has struggled as of late in the playoffs, but now with everyone healthy, and a quality backup in Tomas Vokoun, Fleury will not have to carry the load like he did in the 2011 & 2012 playoffs when players were injured and Fleury was called upon more, thus fatigue setting in sooner. All Fleury needs to do is find himself and have the success much like he did in the 2008 & 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. If Fleury can do that, Pittsburgh will have a complete roster top to bottom and all the way around and set themselves up for a good run at the Stanley Cup!
Lets Go Pens!
Losing is unheard of. Perfection, unacceptable. Just win.
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