This week’s Pittsburgh Penguins games definitely displayed a rollercoaster of performances. First, it was filled with moments of struggle and despair, as the team opened the week with the Montreal Canadiens, losing 4-1. Next, a solid performance by Tristan Jarry resulted in a shutout win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, where the Penguins won 1-0. And finally, they ended the week with one of the most exciting games this season which featured a fight, a penalty shot and ended in a shootout against the Los Angeles Kings.
Overall, the Penguins had some high moments and some low moments, but ultimately, there were three stars that had consistent performances. As some key players stay on injured reserve, the remaining healthy players showed their importance to the wins this week and certainly entertained Penguins fans everywhere.
Third Star: Jake Guentzel
Jake Guentzel has been consistently contributing for the entire season, playing 33 games and producing 36 points thus far. After linemate and captain Sidney Crosby fell injured and out for six weeks, it’s obvious Guentzel’s talent does not stem from his star centerman. His performance during this week – though he only scored one goal – had been extremely effective. The lone goal fed to him by Bryan Rust was a true beauty, but Guentzel’s star power this week stems from assists and effort.
Guentzel had fed many goals to Rust this week, showing his ability to set up plays for teammates has definitely improved and become more consistent. For example, he fed Bryan Rust a power-play opportunity cleanly and timely, helping Rust tie the game against the Kings. This week has quite possibly shown the growth as Guentzel as he finds his footing without long-time linemate, Crosby; he has found his place a veteran and a key player for the team this week.
Dec. 8-14 Stat Line: 1 goal, 4 assists, 21:13 average TOI
Second Star: Tristan Jarry
Tristan Jarry shined this week as he marked three shutout wins in four starts after winning against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Despite the goalie dilemma the Penguins’ face – juggling between veteran goalie, Matt Murray, and typically backup goalie, Jarry – Jarry’s performance was as steady as a first-string goalie. After facing an average of 28 shots this week, he saved an average of 25 shots; finishing this week with a 9.28 save percentage this week and .937 overall save percentage this season.
Jarry faced many shots this week but some highlights include a penalty shot from Kings’ player Anze Kopitar and a shootout, both of which he did not let a single puck through. These one-on-one chances, where stress and stakes are a bit high, illustrated Jarry’s ability as a netminder. He deserves this second-star placement because he is developing himself as a player, and making really pretty saves, but also, he was tremendously valuable to the team’s wins this week.
Dec. 8-14 Stat Line: 28 average shots against, 25 average shots saved, .928 average save percentage
First Star: Bryan Rust
Rust has been showing his true talent this season. So far, he has shown that he can be productive, be a leader, and help the team win by scoring as many goals as he possibly can. This week, Rust made some phenomenal goals and tallied a few points. His best performance this week was against the Los Angeles Kings where he scored three goals and sealed the deal with the only shootout goal against the Kings’ goalie, Jonathan Quick.
In addition to his performance against the Kings, Rust also scored the overtime winner for the Penguins against the Columbus Blue Jackets; finishing his week with five total points. Ultimately this week had highs and lows, but Rust was steady and productive, making it successful. Rust seemed to be the glue that held the team together offensively as injuries riddle the team. His “hot streak” seems to be than just a temporary thing, as he seems to make moves toward becoming a star forward.
Dec. 8-14 Stat Line: 3 goals, 2 assists, 2 power-play goals
Each week, an updated point system will be in place. The third star receives one point, the second star receives two, and the first star gets three. Agree or disagree with the stars of the week? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter at @joshkaradeema / @caseymontana211.
- Bryan Rust – 9 points
- Evgeni Malkin- 9 points
- Sidney Crosby- 7 points
- Jake Guentzel- 6 points
- Tristan Jarry – 6 points
- Jared McCann- 5 points
- Brandon Tanev- 4 points
- Kris Letang- 3 points
- Matt Murray- 3 points
- Dominik Simon- 3 points
- Patric Hornqvist- 2 points
- Dominik Kahun- 1 point
- Sam Lafferty- 1 point
- John Marino- 1 point
- Stefan Noesen- 1 point
Casey Montana is a Pittsburgh native and hockey fan. A recent graduate from Mercyhurst University with a bachelor’s degree in both Communications and Political Science, Casey focused her studies on Sports Business and Media. She started working with the Mercyhurst athletic department as the Strategic Communications Intern and then established a passion for hockey operations, media relations, and sports writing.