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Penguins Top Six Among Best in NHL Analytically

The Pittsburgh Penguins are being led by their top six on the scoreboard and in the underlying numbers.
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PITTSBURGH - As the bottom half of the Pittsburgh Penguins forward group begins to come alive, the team is still led by their top six.

The lines of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Rickard Rakell plus Evegni Malkin, Jason Zucker, and Bryan Rust have been leading the way for the Penguins.

Not only have those six looked good numbers wise, but even analytics gives them high praises.

According to, the Penguins second line of Malkin, Zucker, and Rust is the third best forward line in the NHL in terms of expected goals percentage (xG%).

As of November 27, the trio has an xG% of 65.3 in their 14 games together; Crosby, Guentzel, and Rakell sit at 19th with 56.9 xG%.

There was a time that it looked like Malkin, Zucker, and whoever took over their open wing were the best line on the team.

Malkin has 20 points (8G-12A) in 22 games and has looked like a younger version of himself as he played in his 17th NHL season.

Zucker is having a resurgent season with 15 points (5G-10A) in 20 games.

Those two have faulted a little bit in recent games by not finding the score sheet, but they are still creating opportunities and showing to be playing with a lot to prove.

Rakell has bounced between the first and second line but brought an outstanding sense of offense in every situation.

In 22 games this year, Rakell has nine goals and five assists for 14 points and an xG% of 8.14 on the season.

Then there is Crosby who is being his normal, dominant self by leading the league in points at event strength play with 24.

In total, Crosby has 29 points (11G-18A) in 22 games, leading the Penguins in each of those categories.

The Penguins top six is standing out despite a slip in production in recent game; they are generating opportunities and a lot of times taking full advantage of them.

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