Penguins’ Special Teams and Goaltending Must Remain Consistent

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been firing on all cylinders lately and are currently sitting in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division. They have improved in every area of their game, especially goaltending and special teams. The Penguins have two games left in 2022 including a division matchup with the New Jersey Devils. In order for the team to continue being successful through the second half of the season, their outstanding special teams and goaltending play must continue.


Pittsburgh’s starting goaltender Tristan Jarry has been proving in the last couple months why he is a serious Vezina Trophy contender this season. Jarry’s record before the loss to the New York Islanders on Dec. 27 was 11-0-3. However, he has now fallen to 15-4-4 with a .918 save percentage. In the game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 22 he saved 32 of 36 shots in the team’s 4-3 overtime loss. He is also in the final year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year.

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As the Penguins get set to move into the second half of the season, they will need Jarry to remain consistent. If he continues to perform at a high level, Pittsburgh needs to start making serious moves to re-sign him before the end of the season.

Special Teams

It seems that the Penguins’ special teams unit has finally hit its stride. Both the penalty kill and the power play have been on fire over the last month and a half. Defenseman Kris Letang, who suffered the second stroke of his career at the end of November, scored during the Florida Panther’s power play on Dec. 15 in the Penguins’ 4-2 victory. In the 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Dec. 20 the penalty kill did not allow a goal in all three of New York’s power plays. There have been several stand out players on the penalty kill including Jan Rutta. Although Rutta isn’t known for his offensive production, at 6-foot-3 and 204 pounds he has proved to be a strong presence on defense. His strong forechecking and aggressive style of play have been the perfect addition to the penalty kill. 

Jan Rutta Pittsburgh Penguins
Jan Rutta, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The power play has also drastically improved from what it was to open the season. A recent change Pittsburgh made was to move Rickard Rakell up to the first power-play unit which has made a huge difference. Rakell has been consistently good since joining the team in March of this year. He makes everyone around him play better, which has been evident especially on the top power-play unit. 

Jake Guentzel, who is also on the top unit, scored two goals in the game against the Panthers, one of which was on the power play. During the game against the Rangers, Evgeni Malkin scored a power-play goal during the second period. Bryan Rust, who plays on the second unit, also scored a power-play goal against the Rangers. Captain Sidney Crosby scored a power-play goal in the loss to the Hurricanes during the first period. His tally made 10 straight games with at least one power-play goal.

Consistency is Key

The Penguins have been finding success lately thanks to a full team performance. They have been getting production not only from their top two lines but also from their bottom six and special teams. The key for Pittsburgh as they head into the second part of the season will be consistency. Players such as Rust and Rutta must continue to contribute in a positive way. The Penguins have two more games left in 2022 and will be looking to head into the new year on a high.