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It’s a new year for the Pittsburgh Penguins. But with that fresh sheet of ice comes the same high expectations the powerhouse team faces every year.
Through eight games this season, the Penguins appear to be living up to all the hype. They’ve gone 7-1-0 in the young season, outscoring opponents 31-19, with their only loss coming at the hands of the Florida Panthers.
As many expected, Sidney Crosby leads the league in points, goals and assists, with a five-point advantage over Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks in the points category. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has posted a league-leading seven wins and one shutout with a save percentage of .930.
By all indications, it’s going to be another great year for the Penguins. That is if they can stay healthy.
Forward James Neal, defenseman Kris Letang and backup goalie Tomas Vokoun are already on the shelf for the Pens. Neal is expected to miss significant time due to an injury he recently re-aggravated. He has only seen three minutes of playing time with no game action since Oct. 3.
According to the Penguins, Letang is “close to a return,” having been on injured reserve since the beginning of the season with lower-body ailments. For Vokoun, the injury is of a very serious nature, as he “nearly died” from blood clots found from his mid-leg to his heart. He is out at least three to six months.
The Penguins are used to injuries coming to key players, with star forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both missing significant time in previous seasons. The team, however, has found ways to persevere and get what matters at the end of the night: wins.
Pittsburgh will cap off October with five games against teams in the top three of their respective divisions including Metropolitan Division matchups against the 3-3-2 New York Islanders and the 4-2-3 Carolina Hurricanes. Those two teams, in addition to the Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, each pose a threat to the Penguins’ nearly perfect month.
For the Penguins, the mantra needs to be ‘keep doing what you’re doing.’ Keep scoring goals, keep stopping opponents’ offenses and keep winning.