Turning the corner and entering the second half of the year the Penguins are 26-10-6, with 58 points. Second in the Metropolitan Division and second in the Eastern conference. With a few “mumps” in the road, the Pens have been able to pull through and still prove to be one of the top teams in the league thanks to spectacular play from Evgeni Malkin, Marc Andre Fleury and Sidney Crosby, despite not producing as much as normal.
Malkin has been putting on an MVP caliber season and does not have signs of stopping. Standing second in the league in points, with 49, he is only three points behind the leader, Jakub Voracek. Voracek may be leading the league in points but is not in the same talk of an MVP award due to the Philadelphia Flyer’s lack of production in the win column. The, rival, Flyers are fifth in the Metropolitan Division with a 17-20-7 record, totalling 41 points.
Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury is on his way to a career season, so far tallying 22 wins. Out of his victories Fleury was able to rack up, a league leading six shutouts. Fleury is having a possible Vezina Trophy caliber season. If he is able to maintain his spot as one of the top goalies in the league this season, it would not be shocking if he was in the talks for the Vezina.
The Mumps have been a pretty big issue in the NHL this season with over 20 confirmed cases of mumps around the NHL, the Penguins alone had five cases. The five players that missed due to the mumps included Sidney Crosby, Thomas Greiss, Beau Bennett, Steve Downie, and Olli Maatta. On top of the mumps the Pens were, and still are, riddled with injuries from top performing players, like surprises Blake Comeau and Patric Hornqvist. Obviously Pascal Dupuis is out and will be out for a while still to come due to his blood clot. Just announced as being out for the season s young defenceman who already beat out cancer this year, Olli Maatta. He will be undergoing shoulder surgery and it is only best he misses the rest of the season.
Maatta is a young player with a lot of talent and a long future in the NHL ahead of him. It would be a waste to try and rush him back and possibly injuring himself more and jeopardizing his future.
Sidney Crosby is in one of the worst scoring droughts of his career, only putting up five goals since November. With that, however, Crosby is still one of the squads top performers game in and game out. It may not show on the stat sheet, but Crosby is playing harder than most of the team. He is making plays happen and making sure The Penguins remain a top force in the league. Crosby is also quietly floating around the top point getters in the league. He, and multiple others have 47 points. Only two points behind team leader Malkin, who mentioned earlier is second in the league. Both Crosby and Malkin have great shots at leading the league in points by the end of the season.
The first half of the season has come and gone and the Pens are proving themselves as still a top Stanley Cup contender, so long they can keep up good performances in the playoffs.