The Pittsburgh Penguins showed their resiliency and bounced back with a big 5-2 win over the New York Rangers Thursday night after a tough two-game stretch
These Penguins don’t get a lot of hype, they aren’t a shiny, young team anymore, but if the pieces all come together, this is going to be a tough team to beat in the playoffs.
After losing a couple of tough games to the Boston Bruins and Rangers, the Penguins bounced back in a big way. Even when Sidney Crosby is pointless, the Pens find ways to score — this depth is reminiscent of the golden days of the HBK line.
When the primary goal contributions come from the second and fourth line, sprinkle a power play marker in there, you’re in good shape. When the defense jumps in on the fun, that’s the recipe for success.
Especially when the defense plays much, much stronger in front of their goaltender. And said goaltender stones penalty shot chances from the opposing team.
More from Pens Labyrinth
- Welcome To The Burgh: Lars Eller
- Penguins Waddle Toward The Season
- Farewell Carl Hagelin
- Penguins Line-up Breakdown vs Stanley Cup Champs Vegas
- Ryan Graves Solid Signing For The Pittsburgh Penguins
Yes, Thursday’s win was a nice one. There were a lot of encouraging signs (depth scoring, defensive scoring, team defense, solid goaltending), and there’s more good news coming soon with the return of some key forwards.
With 16 games left on the schedule, the Penguins will see the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres eight times (four times each), and the Pens will have the opportunity to make up some ground on the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals.
With three games in hand, the Bruins are only four points back of the Penguins now. No. 1 seeded Penguins are a much, much better projection than a No. 4 seeded Penguins.
That starts Friday night, the first of a two-game road trip in New Jersey.
The big Petrodactyl himself
When Penguins’ color commentator Bob Errey said, “he’s a big pterodactyl out there,” it wasn’t hard to guess who he was talking about.
What an introduction for a player, very Errey-esqe, but that’s definitely an apt way to describe Zohorna. The burly Czech forward is usually the biggest player when he’s out on the ice, but he’s not just a big body. He’s got some skill, too.
Zohorna got his skates moving, busting into the offensive zone, perhaps catching Rangers’ defenders off guard, as he cut in toward net. Rangers defenseman Libor Hajek could only watch as Zohorna moved the puck to the backhand, put his head down and wristed a quick shot past Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin.
Later, on the power play no less, Zohorna received a puck from Jason Zucker on the red line near the goal and quickly fed a puck to the slot for Evan Rodrigues. ERod’s quick-release gave Zohorna his second point of the game.
Crosby, Jake Guentzel and… Zohorna. What do all three have in common? All three are scoring at point per game or better for the Penguins this season.
In four games this season, Zohorna has four points (two goals and two assists). He’s shown some growing pains at times (costly turnovers and penalties), but he’s proving to be a kid who is worth keeping around.
Take it from the Pens, depth wins
Frederick Gaudreau, Radim Zohrona, Mark Jankowski, Evan Rodrigues have all found the scoresheet of late, giving the Penguins a strong secondary scoring. Even the snake-bitten Zucker found the scoresheet for a two point night.
With so many key players out of the lineup for long stretches of play this season, the Penguins would have been doomed if certain players had not stepped up.
The early-to-mid 2010s should be a clear enough example of when only one or two lines can legitimately find the back of the net…
Jared McCann has become a legitimate top-six winger, Gaudreau and Zohorna have turned into reliable fourth line skaters and even Jankowski has rewarded the Pens’ faith in him with strong play as of late.
Once everyone is healthy, the Penguins will actually have some tough choices when deciding who will stay in the lineup.
Whatever the result is, it’s pretty clear that the Penguins will continue to score in a variety of different ways.
Are you starting to believe in these Penguins a bit more? Let me know in the comments below!