After nine games the Pittsburgh Penguins are 7-2-1 with fifteen points sitting on top of the Metropolitan Division. Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, and Evgeni Malkin being the top scorers so far with fourteen points from Crosby and eleven each from Malkin and Hornqvist. Despite two tough losses to rivals, Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings, the pens were able to bounce back in their last four games with a shutouts against the Nashville Predators, Los Angeles Kings, and Buffalo Sabres with a huge 8-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
Despite the great play on the ice, off the ice young defenceman Olli Maatta is expected to miss the next four weeks after an upcoming surgery to remove a tumor from his neck that is possible to be thyroid cancer. The month of October is “Hockey Fights Cancer” month, and Maatta is enjoying a great October. With five points including a goal he has also been playing alongside Kris Letang on the top defensive line for the Penguins. Maatta personally knew about the tumors before the season started but was able to keep it quiet and unnoticed by his great play.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is also seems to be in midseason form with three shutouts against the Predators, Sabres and against the returning Stanley Cup champions Los Angeles Kings. Fleury is expected to play 60+ games this season and if he can continue playing like a brick wall then there is a good chance the Penguins can be number one in the division and maybe the league come playoff time.
Along with Fleury, another aspect of the team that is firing on all cylinders is the special teams. The penalty kill has been flawless lately killing off twenty six straight penalties taking the PK% to a solid 85.37%. As well as having a new strong penalty kill the power play has been beyond deadly, with 18 power play goals bringing in a league leading 41.86% with an extra man.
The Penguins are rolling and even with the struggles of losing a top line defenceman in Maatta. Fleury has been impenetrable, the special teams is back on track, and there does not seem to be any sign of stopping now. The next game is Tuesday November fourth against the Minnesota Wild.