Steve Downie Putting Together Career Season in Pittsburgh


Of all the big names the Pittsburgh Penguins have moved in and out of the lineup this season (we saw James Neal shipped out, while Patric Hornqvist and David Perron were brought in), one name in particular has been crucial to the Penguins’ success thus far this season – Steve Downie.

The aggressive, hard-nosed, blue collar winger has been a force for the black & gold this season, posting 9 goals and 22 points in 43 games so far, alongside a team-leading 167 penalty minutes.

Suiting up almost exclusively in the team’s bottom-six, Downie has remained responsible with a +6 rating, and even has a game-winning goal and a couple powerplay tallies to his name as well.

He’s been a jack of all trades for Pittsburgh, dutifully filling in wherever he’s needed – whether that be in a checking role alongside Brandon Sutter, in a scoring capacity alongside Sidney Crosby, or simply as an agitator in garbage time, getting in opponents’ faces and causing havoc.

Downie has the tools to do all of these things. He’s one of the most aggressive players in the league, one who has never backed down from a scrap or a chance to defend his teammates, but one who possesses a very underrated set of hands.

He might be known for his right hook, but Downie is no slouch with the puck on his stick either. Take a gander at some of the goals he’s scored for the Pens this season and his skill will become evident very quickly.

While the Penguins’ season has been an unstable one as of late (the team has lost five of their last six, and has a few other lengthy losing streaks in their recent past as well), Downie’s determined style of play has been a key reason for Pittsburgh remaining near the top of the Metropolitan division.

Despite the pile-up of losses recently, the Pens sit only three points back of the New York Islanders for first place, and still have a three-point lead on the the third-place Washington Capitals.

How are the Pens still sitting near the top despite their abysmal play as of late? They’re there because they were able to rack up wins over the first couple months of the season, and Downie’s ability to fit in seamlessly with his new surroundings played a significant role in allowing this to be the case.

Nov 29, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins forward Steve Downie (23) skates against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

As the feisty forward reaches the midway point of his first campaign in Pittsburgh, it’s clear he’s set to post a career season.

Downie has already topped his numbers from his last three seasons (in all major categories). His best season came in 2009-10 when he posted 22 goals, 46 points, and 208 penalty minutes for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Already nearing the 200-minute mark only halfway through the season, while on pace for another 20-goal campaign, Downie is making a name for himself as the Penguins’ best acquisition of the offseason.

Though Pittsburgh remains a club that relies heavily on their high-powered top-six, Downie’s balance of aggression and underrated skill is quickly putting teams on notice when it comes to respecting the Pens’ bottom-six – a shift they will certainly be grateful for once the postseason rolls around.