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Penguins Locker Room: P.O Building Confidence, Crosby Extra Motivation

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel

The Pittsburgh Penguins PK wasn’t bad after the first period, P.O Joseph had a much better game, and Sidney Crosby is riding a wave of momentum with a pair of three-point games.

Crosby is keeping pace with Mario Lemieux, who had 31 points in the first 10 games of the 1988-89 season. Mario banked 199 points that season. It seems just a bit unlikely that Crosby will match that output, but he and linemate Jake Guentzel have submitted a pair of outstanding performances to begin the season.

Crosby leads the NHL in scoring.

Sidney Crosby

Crosby, 35, has always separated himself from other elite offensive talents through his defensive work. Opponents must earn a scoring chance against Crosby’s line. There’s no cheating defense or gambling on Crosby’s line.

As a whole, the Penguins have thoroughly dominated. At even-strength, the Penguins have outscored opponents, 7-1, while garnering 65% of scoring chances and 65% of high-danger chances, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.

“It’s good to see that one doesn’t hurt the other. We can still be pretty steady defensively and generate some good chances,” Crosby said. “Especially against a team like (Tampa Bay), they really don’t need a lot of room. A little mistake, and it is in the back of the net. So they’re dangerous, and I thought we played the right way.”

Everyone on the top three lines already has scored a goal. From Kasperi Kapanen to Jake Guentzel, everyone has lit the lamp. Through two games, it’s been a four-line attack. The Crosby line has rolled into the Evgeni Malkin line, which has rolled into the Jeff Carter line.

“You want to keep that going. It might not last. It’s something you want to keep riding that momentum if you can. If you want to win consistently, you need everyone to contribute,” said Crosby. “There’s no secret to that. We’ve been able to do it here for the first couple of games.”

The Penguins captain also hinted at the 2022 playoff failure being a little extra fuel for the fire. That was a difficult topic to pin down through training camp. Generally, answers on the topic acknowledged the disappointment and looked forward.

“I think we all understand that the points we’re getting now are the same points that add up at the end of the year, so you just want to start on a good note,” Crosby said. “But especially how (last season) finished, if there’s any extra motivation, I mean, it would definitely be there for us. So I think everyone is just excited.”

Guentzel echoed the sentiment — unprompted — that last season’s playoff loss is one reason for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ hot start.

“We were excited to play. We were all eager from the way our last season ended. So I think for us to be able to play how we did in front of our fans is exciting for us. The building was loud. It’s a lot of fun,” Guentzel said.

P.O Joseph

PHN didn’t grade Joseph well after the first game, but gave him high marks for the second.

“I thought I just went with it. I think my confidence kind of built up, and my instinct took over tonight,” Joseph said. “I’m really happy with my decision to do that. So I’ve got to keep building on that.”

Joseph is a Quebec native (Laval), but he laughed when we asked how many tickets he will need for the Penguins’ game Monday night against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. No, he doesn’t know yet. One day at a time.

It will surely be a big moment for him to play in Montreal. Unlike any other hometown team, playing the Montreal Canadiens is extra-special for the Quebec natives.

Special Teams

The Pittsburgh Penguins PK sunk to 50% after Steve Stamkos ripped a wide-open one-timer past goalie Tristan Jarry in the first period on Saturday. The goal meant the Penguins had killed only three of the first six chances opponents had. However, the PK rallied with a pair of kills in the second period to preserve a 2-1 lead. The posture and attack level were different.

“A lot of times, when you can have a little bit of success, it breeds confidence. And I think that’s important for our penalty kill, just trying to celebrate the little things that help us make progress,” Mike Sullivan said. “I thought the guys did a great job as far as being active down the ice, putting pressure on the breakout, disrupting some of the timing in the flow, and making the entries difficult. We won some faceoffs, blocked some shots, and then they had a couple of good reads. You know, Stamkos scored on a one-timer. He’s an elite scorer. And, you know, we’ve got to try to do a better job denying that shot but other than that, there was a lot to like.”

The Penguins’ power play has a different feel, too. You may notice a lack of fans pleading through two games, “Shoot!!”

The Penguins were 2-for-4 with the advantage on Saturday. Their season percentage is 40%. They had nine shots on their four chances against the Lightning. Last season, it may have taken nine power plays, maybe 10, to get nine shots. That’s an exaggeration, but not by much.

“That was a big thing we wanted to work on (after) last year, to be a better power play. So I think we’re just trying to keep it simple and make plays and shoot the puck,” Guentzel said. “It was a great play by (Bryan Rust) on his goal there too. So it’s important to keep it simple, and we’ve worked hard.”

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Vince Gori
Vince Gori
1 month ago

He was a little less tentative than game 1 but I am still not a POJ fan. Maybe he could grow on me, but my preference is Smith, Ruhwedel then Friedman, the latter orefered for physical games.

I also pray that the Pens stay away from Simmonds. He’s over the hill and it a favorite.

Biggus Dickus
Biggus Dickus
1 month ago
Reply to  Vince Gori

Agree on both points…
keeping POJ is awful, he’s THE weak link…will cost us the Cup

Biggus Dickus
Biggus Dickus
1 month ago
Reply to  Vince Gori

Totally agree on both points… trade POJ now before it’s too late

Pens' Igloo
Pens' Igloo
1 month ago
Reply to  Vince Gori

Do you need to make the same point every other day? You’ve made your point that you’re not a POJ fan, but for reasons that have been talked ad nauseum, he’s getting the chance to show what he can do with some extended NHL action before the team makes a decision on his future. He’s a young, inexperienced player that will make mistakes, but let’s maybe give him a couple weeks before re-assessing his overall play to determine how his play is trending?

Alan Smith
1 month ago

The best offense in the NHL! I always thought they were! Great to watch! Tampa is not an offensive team. Pens just need to stay healthy and let everyone play as much as possible. Defense is better with the two stars they added. Got to watch the bodies landing on Jarry! Our guy dumped the player on him! Not a good defensive move!