By Jack Fenty
The hockey community through most of the first half of the NHL season questioned if the back to back in Stanley Cup winners were tired from their previous two long seasons. When looking at their record through December; 21-17-3, it looked like Pittsburgh was going to have to fight to get back into the playoffs in a crowded Metropolitan Division. In October they had some notable losses; they lost 10-1 to the Hawks, 7-1 to the Lightning, and 7-1 to the Jets. Not great for the former champs. Through the first half stretch the team was not clicking all over the ice. The forwards were not scoring, the D was playing lackadaisical, and the goaltending was not making the key saves at the crucial times. But as the calendar struck January Pittsburgh play drastically started to rise. Since January 1st, the Penguins have had a record of 14-4-1. In this stretch the likes of Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel have been on fire. All three have 66 points in total on the season. Malkin is 2nd only behind Ovechkin in goals with 32. On the other hand, Crosby is tied for third in the league for assist behind Voracek and Gaudreau with 47.
The Penguins go into their 60th game at home against the Maple Leafs sitting in second place in the Metro division behind the Washington Capitals. Impressively, the Penguins are 8-1-1 in their last ten games. I do predict they will jump the Capitals and will hold the top spot in the Metro come playoff time. Will this team win its third Stanley cup in a row? A lot will come down to the moves Jim Rutherford makes before the trade deadline. I think Rutherford will try to move Matt Hunwick (D) who has been injury riddled throughout the season. They will most likely make a move for a forward as Darren Dreger tweeted earlier today below. Rutherford always seems to amaze at the deadline so keep an eye on the moves he makes to improve his team. Back-to-back-to-back for the Pens?
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