Apr 16, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz (14) reaches for a loose puck against Columbus Blue Jackets center Boone Jenner (38) during the third period in game one of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Kunitz Has Quietly Gone Cold for Pens

 

For the Pittsburgh Penguins to be successful this postseason, they’ll need every one of their star players contributing consistently.

Unfortunately for Chris Kunitz, he’s hit sort of a dry spell.

Garnering just one assist in his last five contests, Kunitz has been unable to muster much of anything lately. While Sidney Crosby is, well, Sidney Crosby, he still needs a productive number-14 to help manufacture offense on that first-line.

It’s evident that Pittsburgh’s secondary scoring has been putrid this season, so, Kunitz’s offensive output is nearly necessary for playoff longevity. Now, of course, we can’t put the onus solely on Kunitz, but the top-line of both him and Crosby haven’t recorded a five-v-five goal since Apr. 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Which, ironically, was the last time Kunitz scored.

Obviously, Crosby and Kunitz aren’t the only dynamic duo that must start clicking. However, given the current drought Kunitz is enduring, it’s more magnified because of what line he skates on. Even though Kunitz hasn’t been penciling his name on the stat-sheet of late, we have to think that he’s due.

Could Kunitz’s disappearance from the points category be attributed to his Olympic participation?

Performing for Team Canada in February’s Winter Games, Kunitz could be experiencing a heavy workload. Kunitz played in the most games you could with Canada. Accompanied with the travel and festivities, Kunitz, perhaps, may be feeling a little wear-and-tear. Or, simply put, there’s no explanation for Kunitz’s non-offensive-existence.

It’s not as if Kunitz isn’t trying though, because he’s still generating quality scoring chances. It’s just they aren’t finding the back of the net. But when it matters most, Kunitz will be there to put Pittsburgh on top – you can count on that.

During the regular-season Kunitz led the Pens in game-winning tallies (8), and he also ranked seventh in the entire league for that category. Something tells me that not only is Kunitz going to break out of this slump, but he’ll do it in style, by potting the tilt-sealing goal. When this happens, who knows.

You can only keep a prolific player like Kunitz down for so long. Considering Kunitz was the Pens’ second-best scorer after the regular-season, it’ll only be a matter of time before he registers his first of the playoffs.

It’s interesting though, because you figure a guy who skates alongside a talent like Crosby wouldn’t suffer any stagnations as-long-as five games. Nonetheless, I’m expecting Kunitz to deliver in tonight’s Game 2. I’ll be bold and say Kunitz will bury the first goal of the game.

Tonight’s Game 2 against Columbus can be seen on the NBC Sports Network, and is set to start at 7 p.m.

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