The Penguins have been able to put up big points on Sergei Bobrovsky so far through every game in their first round series. Despite opening up against arguably the best goaler in the league, the Penguins have scored a league leading 16 goals against Columbus throughout their first four games. A major contribution to this scoring prowess has come from the Penguins blue line, which has contributed nine points so far through the first round.
|2016-2017 Playoff||2015-2016 Playoff|
Even without Letang, the Penguins blue line has contributed offensively. For instance, Ian Cole’s three points are just one point shy of his entire playoff output last season in 20 less games played. Additionally, the newest member of the blue line, spring chicken Ron Hainsey, has already contributed two points in four games.
Jeff Schultz has already picked up two points. He only had six points total in the previous postseason. It is shocking to see that the 2016-2017 scoring threat and power play quarterback that Jeff Schultz has become only managed to dress for 15 of the Pens playoff games just a season ago. For reference, Schultz had just 18 total points in the 2015-2016 regular season. In the 2016-2017 regular season he skyrocketed to 81. His step up in play has truly been remarkable.
Brian Dumoulin and Oli Maatta appear to be remarkably consistent this post season, each already chipping in a point with roughly equivalent points per game as they possessed last year during the post season.
The only noticeable dip so far has been from Trevor Daley, who has yet to register a point this season. Daley needs to set up goals for this Penguins team if they hope to make a continued run throughout the postseason.
Sadly, there is no replacing Kris Letang. His 65 points per game last postseason lead the team and his 15 postseason point contribution will be sorely missed. Worse yet, these positive trends in the Penguins blue line could simply be the results of a small sample size so far in the postseason. It is equally likely at this point in thepost season, that these improvements could be legitimate increases in scoring brought on by more ice time and heightened responsibility for these skaters in Letang’s wake. So for the Penguins sake, hopefully it is the later.
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