Pittsburgh Penguins 2017-2018 First Half Review: The Good

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 14: Phil Kessel
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 14: Phil Kessel /

2017 is over. It was an up and down start to the season for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Pittsburgh Penguins find themselves in an unfamiliar situation. They enter 2018 ranked 22nd in the NHL with 41 points. After two consecutive Stanley Cup victories, it’s safe to say this isn’t the trajectory the team had in mind. Although a reset is needed, it wasn’t all bad this year. Here’s a look back at “the good” from 2017.

Shooters Shoot

One thing hasn’t changed from previous years under Mike Sullivan. The Pittsburgh Penguins shoot the puck. They lead the league with 34.88 shots per game, and have racked up a monster 1395 shots thus far. Phil Kessel leads the way, registering 148 shots on goal. This always ranks him 5th in the league.

It’s bad enough when a team isn’t playing well, but nothing is more frustrating than failing to register shots. At least the Pens are keeping it interesting. You have to think that these numbers will start to regress, and the team will see in an increase in their 7.8 shot %.

The Man Advantage

The Pens are tied for second in the league with a 25% on the power-play. I just crunched the numbers and yes, that’s one out of every four attempts. They’ve collected 36 goals on the man advantage, and allowed only one shorthanded tally.

When even strength scoring is suffering as much as it has been, we have to be thankful that the power-play has been red hot. Even with key players like Justin Schultz and Kris Letang out, the special teams is succeeding with a revolving cast of characters.

Next: A Call for Defensive Changes

The Thrill

Superstars Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang have found themselves under constant fire for under performing  this season. Phil Kessel, on the other hand, has not. The American forward has collected 42 points in 40 games, and leads the club in assists, shots, and power-play points. Phil is also second in the league with those 23 power-play points.

When a team is under performing, it can be easy to overlook a player that is having a decent campaign. Phil is proving that he can still perform even when the team isn’t up to snuff. He doesn’t rely on the play-making skills of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, and has truly emerged as the “third head” on the former two-headed monster.

All stats provided by NHL.com.