Pittsburgh Penguins: Grading the Penguins Through Seven Games

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 07: Olli Maatta /
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TORONTO, ON - APRIL 8: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins sets for a face-off against the Toronto Maple Leafsduring the third period at the Air Canada Centre on April 8, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – APRIL 8: Sidney Crosby /

Sidney Crosby: (B+) It’s often hard to pick apart anything glaring missing from Sidney Crosby’s game, particularly because there is nothing glaring missing from his game. Through the first seven games, Crosby has already provided some highlight reel goals that are going to be shown throughout the entire year.  At the same time, he’s racked up 9 points (4g, 5a) through those games with four of those points coming via the man advantage.  At the same time, Crosby has seen his wingers shift often already this season, leading to some growing pains, including defensive miscues and missed opportunities.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins /

Pittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin: (C+) When it comes to Malkin, so far this season has shown both sides to his game, although one of those sides is more frustrating to fans.  Through seven, Malkin has put up 8 points (2g, 6a) with no goals on the powerplay and only 18 total shots in those games. Although Malkin has at times looked like the “Geno” of old, other times he’s appeared frustrated and struggling to find chemistry with his wingers, including Phil Kessel.

Bryan Rust: (B-) Also with 8 points (1g, 7a) through seven games, Rust has shown something that Malkin has been lacking this season, which is adaptability. Rust, starting the season on the 3rd line, has started some games on the 1st and some on the 2nd and still has found a way to be tied for second on the team in scoring. He’s driving with the puck to net and finding room to make plays. Hopefully once things settle down and he finds a more permanent home on a line, the rest will come.

Patric Hornqvist: (A-) One of the only two players on this list to get an ‘A’ Hornqvist has shown his value throughout the four games this season he’s appeared in. After missing the first two games with an injury, Hornqvist returned to the lineup and has put up 5 points, with 3 of those coming on the powerplay.

Conor Sheary: (C-) After starting the season on the top line alongside Sidney Crosby, Sheary has seen himself bounce up and down the lineup looking for a home. Following a disappointing playoff run, which challenged his spot in the lineup, it appeared that Sheary had come to camp with his head in the right space and ready to go, but the reality hasn’t quite lived up to the expectation. With 4 points in seven games, Sheary isn’t doing horrible, but with a minus-3 he isn’t exactly playing great either.

Greg McKegg: (C) Perfectly average. While McKegg had a pretty solid start to the year for a 3rd-line center, picking up 3 points in 7 games, the problem is that the Penguins model means whomever is centering the third line, should in theory have a greater opportunity to take advantage of matchups, which McKegg has done so, but not exactly at a pace that helps the Penguins succeed. While McKegg’s play has by no means hurt the team, it’s clear, even at this early point in the season, that the Penguins should consider looking elsewhere for a long-term center for their third line.

Ryan Reaves: (D-) Yeesh. I’m not sure why I decided to grade Reaves, but here it goes. In 7 games, he has 1 goal, no assists, 38 penalty minutes, and averages 05:50 minutes of ice time per game. For comparison his 4th line counterpart, Tom Kuhnhackl averages 10:29 minutes of ice time per game. In other words, he plays 5 less minutes, on average, than his own line. Ouch.  I think it’s time we end this experiment, cut our losses, and play Scott Wilson over Reaves.