Pittsburgh Penguins: Top 5 Issues Facing the Team Before Playoffs

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Jan 3, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Beau Bennett (19) against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at the Consol Energy Center. Canadiens defeated the Penguins 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

5. Wingers must step up

Pittsburgh’s top-six has been fairly prolific lately, ever since head coach Mike Johnston elected to switch up the lines, creating a top trio of David Perron, Sidney Crosby, and Patric Hornqvist in front of a secondary trio of Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, and Blake Comeau.

However, the team as a whole is still in need of stronger depth scoring.

Pittsburgh is certainly in better shape than previous seasons in this regard, as nine of their players currently have 10 goals or more.

The issue lies centrally with players like David Perron and Beau Bennett, who have the potential to be big contributors but are either seeing their numbers fall (i.e. Perron), or aren’t posting the numbers they’re capable of (i.e. Bennett).

With Perron, the issue is a very minor one. The winger has seen his shot totals drop off a cliff over the last five games, but has remained valuable in helping Crosby and Hornqvist find the net often.

Bennett, on the other hand, has posted only 3 goals and 7 points in 33 games this season – numbers far too low for a player with his skill.

The young forward has seen a significant improvement in other aspects of his game (i.e. the ‘battle level’ that the coaches tasked him with working to improve) but come playoff time, the Pens are going to need the third line to chip in offensively as well, or they’ll be on the outside looking in once again.