Where is the secondary scoring in Pittsburgh?
This should be the case for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins are tied for first in the Eastern Conference, have a healthy Sidney Crosby, are playing well at both ends of the ice and are getting more than solid goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury.
While that all sounds fine and dandy, the Penguins actually have a problem right now and that is that they lack secondary scoring. Yes, the team is fourth in the league in goals scored with 30 in nine games but a majority of the production is coming from the first line.
The first line consists of Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz. As of this writing, Crosby has seven goals, Dupuis has two and Kunitz has four.
If you are counting at home, the team's top line has scored 13 of the 30 goals they have scored this season. Sure, it is great to have a top line that is so consistent and great at producing but this team needs other guys to step up and put the puck in the net.
When thinking of other guys who can put the puck in the net for the Penguins, the first guy most would think would be Evgeni Malkin. While he is a worthy thought, Malkin just has three goals despite having taken 34 shots.
Perhaps the main reason for his goal-scoring struggles is the absence of his linemate James Neal. Neal, who is still out with an undisclosed upper body injury, has terrific chemistry with Malkin so with Neal out, Malkin has had trouble finding some consistency on offense.
Other than the guys mentioned above, the only other Penguins' player that seems to be scoring is Jussi Jokinen. Jokinen is tied for second on the team with four goals but even four goals is a low amount for a Penguins' hockey club that is used to scoring goals in bunches.
With Neal still on long-term IR, the Penguins are going to need to find other ways to score goals besides relying on their top line, Malkin, and Jokinen. Sure, these players have a ton of talent and are off to decent starts offensively but they cannot be expected to carry the team the full season.
What if the top line goes cold? What if Malkin gets hurt? What if Jokinen's goal-scoring ways stop?
Right now, those questions do not have any answers. Those players have been the team's key thus far for offensive production and it has won them a lot of games and put them in a good spot in the Eastern Conference.
With all of that said, however, no good thing lasts forever. This team needs to start thinking of figuring out how to get more secondary scoring if they want to be in a good position come the later months of the season.