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Penguins Four-Line Approach Working Wonders

The Pittsburgh Penguins have gotten help from every spot in the lineup as they reach a record of 4-0-1.

Only the deepest of hockey teams are able to win Stanley Cups. If you recall the Pittsburgh Penguins title winning teams in 2016 and 2017, they weren’t big but they skated teams to death with relentless speed that became a blueprint for some of the recent Cup winners.

A big part of the Penguins success also came due to the fact that they could roll four lines and not rely completely on the top six to get it done.

While I won’t suggest that this current Penguins team rivals the depth those teams did, they’ve done a wonderful job keeping their top guys fresh and rolling all four of their lines through five games.

The top six are always going to produce with the names it features. Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin, and Sidney Crosby have three goals. Bryan Rust and Rickard Rakell have two goals. Jason Zucker’s got one. That’s 13 goals for the top six through five games, but that is to be expected.

The bottom-six, however, was a concern among Penguins’ faithful prior to the season. They were going with some unproven/uninspiring names. Five games in, every forward has at least one goal after Josh Archibald and Brock McGinn scored their firsts of the season in the win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Penguins won’t get a handful of 20-goal scorers in the bottom-six and no one should expect that. But guys like Jeff Carter and Kasperi Kapanen scoring goals is going to help the Penguins rely on those guys more to pick up the slack when the top six aren’t lighting the lamp.

Typical bottom-six forward Danton Heinen, who is elevated to the top line in Guentzel’s absence, has three goals himself.

Crosby commented on the Penguins’ scoring depth in a recent interview.

“That’s something you need to win consistently,” Crosby said. “That’s not going to happen all the time but when it does you want to make sure those games result in a W. We’ve done a good job of having people contribute in different roles.”

While not a forward, Jan Rutta has two goals on the season after six all of last year with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The fourth line of McGinn, Archibald and center Ryan Poehling has been good on both sides of the puck. Teddy Blueger will be back very shortly and will add another element of offense to the fourth line that will certainly make them even deeper yet.

Former NHL’ers Drew O’Connor, Drake Caggiula, and Alex Nylander all await opportunities to get back to the big leagues as they continue to develop in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

It looks as though the Penguins could survive a few injuries should a rash of them hit mid-season. That’s a credit to Ron Hextall and company in the front office for making moves to strengthen a perceived weakness that the Penguins had entering the season.

Contributions from everywhere are very welcome and that’s what the Penguins are getting at the moment.

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