Another week of hockey is in the books and what a week it was for the Pittsburgh Penguins. During their three-game winning streak, two in back-to-back road games against the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets, the Penguins have somehow put pucks in the net despite their five injured forwards. With $22 million in salary on injured reserve, it will be interesting to see who elevates their game and if the call-ups can continue to fill the void. For each week we will take a look at the Penguins’ three stars and highlight the club’s best-performing players.
Third Star: Sam Lafferty
Even after a strong Prospects Challenge and training camp, Sam Lafferty started the season in the AHL. When injuries struck, he was the first name called up. He scored the first point of his NHL career against the Wild, and picked up an assist on Adam Johnson’s first career NHL goal. Late in the third period, he shot the puck the full length of the ice into an empty net for his first NHL goal.
Lafferty followed up his performance with two more goals against the Jets. He also had 5:01 of penalty kill time. With the news that Jared McCann is now day-to-day, there is a chance he will be bumped up to the third line to fill that void. Look for the Penguins to rely on Lafferty to kill penalties and contribute offensively.
Oct. 9-15 Stat Line: 3 goals, 2 assists, 7 shots, 51.8% FO%
Second Star: Kris Letang
Along with Sidney Crosby (more on him later), Kris Letang has scored a point in all six games to open the season. He earned an assist on Crosby’s goal against the Anaheim Ducks, then followed that with a goal and assist against the Wild. His pass sprung Crosby on a breakaway with an extra attacker on the ice. He later showed off the offensive instincts that make him one of the best offensive defensemen in the game with a wicked wrist shot into the top corner.
Letang had two more assists against the Jets and was plus-three on the game. Averaging over 25 minutes a game this season, he has rebounded well since opening night. A key figure on the blue line, Letang’s strong play will be crucial to continue the Penguins’ winning streak.
Oct. 9-15 Stat Line: 1 goal, 4 assists, 10 shots, 25:50 Average TOI
First Star: Sidney Crosby
After being named the NHL Third Star of the Week, it is fitting that he is, again, the Penguins’ first star. He was by far the best player on the ice in the last three games, with a goal on the power play and an assist that would make your jaw drop. He received a pass from Dominik Simon, used his strength and puck-handling skills to gain the offensive zone, then sent a simple backhand pass to an open Jake Guentzel for the game-winning goal.
Saturday against the Wild, he tallied another goal and assist in a goal-filled 7-4 Penguins victory in their first road game of the season. Crosby then had two more assists against the Jets to cap off an incredible week. He is on a tear to start the season and has stepped up more than expected given the current injury crisis. After a stunning week, Crosby’s 38th NHL Three-Star Award is justified.
Oct. 9-15 Stat Line: 2 goals, 4 assists, 8 shots, 63.5% FO%
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
- Jared McCann- 2 points
- Kris Letang- 2 points
- Matt Murray- 1 point
- Sam Lafferty- 1 point