Both players are having great seasons. Connor McDavid leads the NHL in points with 74 while both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each have 70. I find it impressive that Crosby and Malkin are able to keep pace with a player of McDavid’s caliber while they are approaching 30 years of age and with missed time due to injury.
Here are the scoring rates for each player this year.
If it wasn’t for the time missed for Evgeni Malkin we would all be talking about him being the favorite for the Hart Trophy and the Art Ross. Something that still isn’t out of the question, but not as likely because of the missed time. Evgeni Malkin has been outstanding this year. It has been a lot of fun to see him back at this level.
Another good storyline from this game is Justin Schultz’s return to Edmonton. Schultz famously shunned the Anaheim Ducks after utilizing a loophole in the CBA to become a UFA. Schultz chose Edmonton and things did not go according to plan. He was asked to do too much on a team that was sorely lacking depth for his entire tenure. Player usage is so important and the Oilers totally botched Schultz’s usage. They ran him into the ground as a top pairing guy for a good chunk of time and that wasn’t within Schultz’s ability. By the time they figured that out his confidence was shot and a change of scenery was in order. Pittsburgh just so happened to be a perfect situation for him to land. High quality of teammate and a bottom-pairing role has gotten Schultz back on track. As he has become more comfortable as a Penguin his role has increased. He has turned mid pairing minutes with the Penguins into what the Oilers thought they were getting when they signed him.
Every few weeks Jesse Marshall of The Pens Blog will put together a really nice breakdown on a specific Penguins topic. His latest piece this week was on Justin Schultz which can be found here
The longer Letang is out the more responsibility that Schultz will receive. So far so good on that front.
You can see that Schultz has done a lot of damage throughout the season. While he may not have those skyscrapers in the most recent time frame he also isn’t getting buried with Letang out either which is nice.
The Penguins have made a roster move. They have called up Oskar Sundqvist for the first time this season. With this call up the Penguins only have one more remaining one to use for the remainder of the regular season. You get a total of four and so far they have used three (Sestito, Gaunce, Sundqvist).
Sundqvist has taken a positive step in his development this year on his ability to generate offense. He has 39 points in 53 games with the Baby Penguins. This is an improvement on the 17 points in 45 games last year which was a 0.37 points per game. The improvement is nice to see however, this is Sundqvist’s 22 year old season in the AHL and the benchmark you want to see is 1.00 points per game. The benchmark up until age 21 is 0.70 points per game
The reason he is being called up is two-fold. Patric Hornqvist has been diagnosed with a concussion and is not available to play. In fact he was sent back to Pittsburgh for further testing. The other reason is that Tom Sestito was suspended for his check from behind on Tobias Enstrom.
The NHL gave Tom Sestito a four game suspension, which in reality is a season long suspension. Hopefully, that is the last of Tom Sestito as a Pittsburgh Penguin.
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