The lackluster all-star break has come to a close and the Penguins are looking to make a revival to their injury depleted lineup and get back into the win column after a disappointing last few games. They had a great start by beating the Jets 5-3, with Patric Hornqvist returning to the line up and putting in an empty net goal. Kris Letang, lucky to not be concussed, had a fantastic night with an assist on every Pens goal.
A record of 26-12-8, with 60 points, has them sitting second in the Metropolitan division. Leading the Metro is the surprising New York Islanders with 63 points. Slowly but surely the injured reserve is shrinking, although at the same time it is growing, now with Crosby and Malkin both missing the first game back from the break. How will the Penguins perform on Tuesday without their top two players? It is surprising to see Kris Letang back on the ice after taking an illegal check from Flyer forward Zac Rinaldo, which he has been suspended eight games
Also still missing from the lineup card are two players who have been phenomenal pick ups for the squad, Patric Hornqvist and Blake Comeau. Hornqvist, after playing 33 games, has 13 goals and 16 assists to equal 29 points. Comeau follows with 11 goals and eight assists for 19 points. Comeau also has three game winning goals, a big deal when you need wins. Both players can pull through in clutch situations – it will be good to see them healthy and contributing again.
Another great addition to the Penguins was the pick up of David Perron. After eight games in a Pens uniform he has tallied seven points with five goals. As long as Perron can stay healthy he can definitely become a driving force within the Pens offense. He has skill and can play both sides of the ice, a huge help so wingers so often seem to go down to injury here and he has to move around line combinations.
A big contributing factor to the Penguins success for the rest of the year is if Fleury can stay solid. He has been faulty the last few games, but is still one of the top goalies in the NHL. If he can keep up the good play a Vezina consideration would not be out of the question, as well as well deserved. Fleury is consistently one of the top goalies in the league and he should be recognized as more than just another goalie who has a starting job.
Expectations remain high for the Pens as the second half begins. If everyone comes back, stays healthy and can continue to perform, a top spot in the division and/or conference is not out of the question.