Despite three game losing streak, Pens still going strong

Written By Anthony Cugini, Sports Columnist

After losing to the Los Angeles Kings 4-3, the Pittsburgh Penguins have now lost three straight games.

Despite the recent struggles, the Penguins have been one of the best teams in the NHL. Though the Pens have had Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin miss time, Pittsburgh has found production from other lesser-known players.

Evan Rodrigues has 32 points in his 44 games played and has helped the Penguins succeed early in the season. Rodrigues also brings versatility into the lineup as he’s played both on the wing and as a center throughout this year.

Offseason signing Danton Heinen has also stepped up for Pittsburgh. Heinen started the season hot as he scored a goal in each of his first three games. Though he hasn’t scored since December 19th, Heinen is only a goal away from tying his career best, 10 goals in a single season.

Another big reason the Penguins have found success has been the goalie play from Tristan Jarry. Jarry struggled mightily in last year’s playoffs with his biggest blunder being his giveaway in game five, which led to the Islanders beating the Pens in overtime. Jarry bounced back this year and earned himself a second All-Star appearance. Jarry is tied for second in the NHL in wins, with 23, and sits fourth in the league with a 2.11 goals against average.

Jake Guentzel is the Penguins’ only other All-Star with his team leading 23 goals on the season. Guentzel recently recorded his 300th point, as he picked up an assist against the Kings on Sunday.

The only place the Penguins need to improve is their defense. Most of the goals the Penguins concede are due to defensive mistakes. These mistakes proved costly in the game against the Kings as Kings’ forward Trevor Moore found his way behind the defense and scored twice against Pittsburgh.

General Manager Ron Hextall should look to trade for a top-six forward before the deadline hits. These potential trade targets could include a couple month rental of Seattle captain Mark Giordono or Montreal Canadian Ben Chariot.

Even if the Penguins don’t make any trades they are still clear Stanley Cup contenders. As of Sunday, the Penguins sit third in the division, just a point behind both the New York Rangers and the Carolina Hurricanes, though the Hurricanes have played four less games than the Penguins.

The Penguins have just one game before they enter the All-Star break and it’s an important one.. Pittsburgh hosts the Washington Capitals Tuesday, as the Capitals look to gain ground in the division.