3 Penguins players who must bring their A-Game to lift the team down the stretch

The Pittsburgh Penguins are floundering in 2023-24, but they aren’t quite out of it yet, especially if a few players step up in February and beyond.

Feb 9, 2024; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates a
Feb 9, 2024; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates a / Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports
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Erik Karlsson needs to start playing like a Norris Contender again

Erik Karlsson put up rare numbers last year for a defenseman, scoring 101 points, 25 goals, and 76 assists en route to winning his third Norris Trophy. Fast-forward to 2023-24, and nothing has gone right for Karlsson, who while scoring a respectable 37 points in 49 games, isn’t even close to the pace he set for himself last season. 

Let’s be fair, however, and note how tough it would be for Karlsson to reach those same numbers. But right now, he may be in the top-10 overall regarding defenseman, and that’s not what the Penguins were hoping for when they traded for him last summer. 

However, Karlsson still has enough time to turn things around, or in a better sense, at least get closer to that point-per-game margin. Doing so will help a Penguins team that has scored a paltry 144 goals this season (good for just 27th in the league). 

If Karlsson alone picks up his game offensively, the Penguins will start accumulating the necessary points to storm back into the wild card hunt. Remember, this team, as of February 11th, is second in goals allowed with 131, showing us just how valuable Karlsson would be if he starts producing in the offensive zone.