The Pittsburgh Penguins are one more week into the season and things are finally starting to take shape. Players are starting to return from injured reserve and things are looking up. Rounding out at 3-3 the last 10 days and 7-5 on the season, the Penguins are firmly in the middle of the pack after 12 games. Key players getting healthier will only help this team as they look to make it 14 consecutive playoff appearances. Every Sunday, we will take a look at the Penguins’ three stars and highlight the club’s best performing players.
Third Star: John Marino
When the Penguins traded for John Marino, it was expected he would start in the AHL but instead, he had an excellent camp and started the season as a healthy scratch, quickly becoming one of the dressed defensemen. Due to the injury of Brian Dumoulin, Marino has now found himself partnered with Kris Letang. His play has been so good that the Penguins felt like they could trade Erik Gudbranson.
Marino’s ice time has increased with the absence of Dumoulin and he has not disappointed. What felt like a long time coming, he finally got his first career NHL point against the Dallas Stars. He got the primary assist after shooting the puck into traffic that forward Bryan Rust was able to control and put home. Marino has been a revelation for the Penguins as his positioning, passing and puck handling have all been welcome sights to a defense that needs improvement in those areas. Just 22 years old, he has all the tools to be a top-four defenseman for the foreseeable future.
Oct. 16-26 Stat Line: 1 assist, 18:25 Average TOI, plus-4
Second Star: Patric Hornqvist
After a disappointing 2018-19 season, it was crucial to the teams’ success for Patric Hornqvist to get back to his best. It is apparent that he took the offseason to get healthy after suffering multiple concussions. He has been consistent, a menace in front of the net and has worked well with different line combinations. He had a standout performance against the Stars with a goal and two assists. He scored what would ultimately be the game-winning goal that extended the teams’ win streak to five games.
He added another goal against the Florida Panthers and capped off the week with a secondary assist on Rust’s goal in the second matchup against the Stars. Hornqvist has been consistent all season long and looks like what we all remember him being during the Stanley Cup runs. On pace for a 60-point season, that would be a career high in his 12th NHL season.
Oct. 16-26 Stat Line: 2 goals, 3 assists, plus-3
First Star: Brandon Tanev
After signing with the Penguins as a free agent this past offseason, fans were excited but also nervous about Brandon Tanev due to the six-year, $21-million deal he received. He has done nothing but impress so far this season. He’s drawing penalties, chasing down the puck well and has been effective on the penalty kill. Against the Colorado Avalanche, he scored his first goal as a Penguin with a short-handed goal in overtime. While it wasn’t the prettiest goal, he brilliantly got the puck out of the defensive zone to start an attack and he was rewarded for his effort to win the game for the Penguins.
His goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning was fantastic. He had the puck below the goal line, got to the front of the net, switched to his backhand and beat the Lightning netminder above his shoulder from an extremely tight angle. He added an empty-net goal against the Stars to round out a fantastic run of games for Tanev. Fans have been impressed and grown to like the forward since joining the Penguins. Let’s hope he continues his strong play and earns the contract general manager Jim Rutherford gave him.
Oct. 16-26 Stat Line: 3 goals, 7 shots
Each week, a point system will be in place that will be updated. 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 me know in the comments below or on Twitter at @joshkaradeema.
- Sidney Crosby- 6 points
- Brandon Tanev- 3 points
- Patric Hornqvist- 2 points
- Jared McCann- 2 points
- Kris Letang- 2 points
- Sam Lafferty- 1 point
- John Marino- 1 point
- Matt Murray- 1 point