Penguins Can Get Back on Track in November with Healthy Lines

As of Oct. 30, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ record is 4-4-1. In nine games, the team has scored 32 goals to start the season. They also won their first three home games, scoring 18 goals at PPG Paints Arena but have struggled since their last win on Oct. 22. They have now lost their last four games and have moved down to seventh in the Metropolitan Division. With injuries affecting coach Mike Sullivan’s lineup, the team has had a dismal stretch to finish off October. They will look to bounce back in November as they return home on Tuesday to face-off against the Boston Bruins.

Guentzel & Zucker’s Injuries Affected Penguins’ Offense

Penguins’ top wingers Jake Guentzel and Jason Zucker have had strong starts to the season. Guentzel has recorded six points in five games played, while Zucker has recorded six points in seven. Both wingers have missed games this season due to injuries. This has had a significant impact on the Penguins’ ability to produce and the team’s offense has been stagnant as a result. Scoring just three goals in the last three games, they have been disappointing, to say the least.

Pittsburgh Penguins Celebrate
Pittsburgh Penguins Celebrate (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Guentzel returned to the lineup on Saturday night (Oct. 29) and scored an unassisted goal in the 3-1 loss to the Seattle Kraken. Zucker also returned and played just over 15 minutes. Sullivan will now reunite the lines that found success earlier this season and the two left-wingers will play on lines one and two.

Healthy Lines Should Find Success

The Penguins’ top line of Guentzel, Sidney Crosby, and Rickard Rakell has produced 13 points in the four games that they have played together. Crosby and Guentzel have both had hot starts to the season accounting for 11 of those 13 points. The second line of Zucker, Evgeni Malkin, and Bryan Rust has also found success early on in the season, recording 15 points in six games. Zucker and Rust’s playmaking ability has been a large contributor to Malkin’s goal-scoring. Playing alongside Rust, he has tallied eight points so far and will look to build on his productive start to the season as the calendar flips to November.

The supporting cast of players such as Jeff Carter, Danton Heinen, and Kasperi Kapanen are a strong third line for Sullivan. Since playing together, the line has generated a humble 11 points. The Penguins’ top three lines have had promising starts to the season and will look to generate more offense in November if the lineup can stay healthy.

Sullivan has had difficulty putting together a solid fourth line amidst the injuries. They have struggled to produce and the new additions of Ryan Poehling and Drake Caggiula have not contributed much so far. Veteran Brock McGinn will need to step up if this line is going to have any success moving forward.

Penguins’ November Refresh

With the return of Zucker and Guentzel, the Penguins will look for a refresh as they begin the month of November. They host the 8-1 Boston Bruins on Nov. 1 and will have to quickly move on from last week’s losses. Averaging just over a point per game, Guentzel will continue to play alongside the Penguins’ captain with Rakell on the right side.

Related: 5 Penguins Have Been Key to the Season’s Solid Start

Zucker’s playmaking ability will contribute to Malkin’s impressive start to the season and Rust should fit in nicely on the right wing. With a full lineup, Sullivan will reunite lines one through three in hopes of generating a spark. The outlook for the Penguins is positive as the team has three solid lines when healthy. Players can move up and down the lineup, giving the coaching staff the flexibility to play players in different roles. If they can add to their goal-scoring at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday, they have the opportunity to end their four-game losing streak and get back on track.