The Pittsburgh Penguins are having a solid start to the 2022-23 season, with a 4-2-1 record. With a few new faces in the lineup, there are still some wrinkles to iron out. However, a few members of the team have been early standouts. Here are five players who are off to an impressive start.
5. Rickard Rakell
Rickard Rakell joined the Penguins in March via a trade with the Anaheim Ducks. He quickly became a fan favorite and signed a six-year contract extension in July. This season, he has played in all seven games and scored three goals and one assist. With forward Jake Guentzel currently sidelined with an upper-body injury, Rakell has had to step up in a big way. He has done a good job playing captain Sidney Crosby’s left-wing over the last three games and is on track to have a breakout year.
4. Jake Guentzel
The Penguins have been without Guentzel since Oct. 20, when he suffered an injury in the 6-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Even though he is not in the lineup, no one can deny his value to the team. Last season, he scored 40 goals and 84 points. He played in four games this year before his injury and scored three goals and two assists. He has a knack for putting the puck in the net and is a strong, tough skater. Pittsburgh is hoping he will be able to return to Crosby’s very soon.
3. Tristan Jarry
Goalie Tristan Jarry is having a huge season. On Oct. 20 against the Kings, Jarry made it possible for the Penguins to get the win. Pittsburgh did not have a lot of offensive zone time in the first period, and they were heavily outskated. He made save after save in the first period and kept the Kings off the board until the Penguins could get some offense going.
Jarry has a .923 save percentage in five starts. If he can stay healthy for most of the season, he will be in the running for the Vezina Trophy as the best goaltender of the season. His contract runs through the end of this season, and the Penguins should seriously consider re-signing him sooner rather than later.
2. Sidney Crosby
Penguins captain is off to another amazing start, with 11 points in seven games. At 35 years old, his game has shown no signs of slowing down. He is now in his 18th NHL season and is the 31st oldest player in the league. He led the league in scoring in the opening week and was named the NHL’s first star. Whether he is coming off the rush or grinding around the net, his strong skating and near-perfect puck handling make him almost impossible to defend against. The Penguins are expecting big things from him this season, and he will no doubt deliver.
1. Evgeni Malkin
Evgeni Malkin came into this season with something to prove. After undergoing the second major knee surgery of his career at the beginning of last season, there were doubts about how much he could contribute. However, he is off to an incredible start and has, so far, silenced his doubters. In seven games, he has four goals and seven points. One contributing factor to Malkin’s early success is forward Bryan Rust. Rust’s strong forecheck and defensive awareness are the perfect complements to Malkin’s game, and the Penguins should consider moving him to the second line permanently.
The Penguins are hopeful that they will get several injured players back in the lineup in November. They are off to a good start, and if they can stay healthy, another Stanley Cup run could be on the horizon.
Explore everything hockey with THW’s Hockeypedia pages.
My name is Sylvie McCarthy and I am a graduate of the University of North Florida. I have spent time as a sports writer for the Casper Star Tribune in Casper, Wyoming and the Picayune Item in Picayune, Mississippi. Sports is my passion, and I am so excited to be writing for The Hockey Writers where I will be covering the Pittsburgh Penguins.