All is right in the Atlantic Division with the Penguins back in first place riding an eight game winning streak and a 10-0-1 record in the last 11 games.
Offensively Pittsburgh came alive with Sidney Crosby recording the first natural hat trick of his career against the Atlanta Thrashers yesterday. With that showing the Penguins captain has now extended his point streak to 14 games totaling 29 points (15G-14A) over that period, the longest current-active streak in the NHL.
This impressive point streak has much to do with the fact that Crosby largely leads his team in points with 44 on the season thus far. Evgeni Malkin, who normally stays stride-for-stride with Sid the Kid throughout the season, has exactly half of his total with only 22 points (8G-14A).
Only Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lighting is within striking distance of Sidney Crosby’s point total with 40 of his own. Even the great Alex Ovechkin is 11 points behind Crosby but with only 10 total goals to this point, it does not look like another 50 goal season for Alex but it sure does for Sidney.
Every team has one player who leads in goals, assists and total point during the season but even when Jaromir Jagr had a 50-plus goal season with the New York Rangers they still managed a poor season as a team. It seems when Crosby is playing well and putting the puck in the net, that translates to wins and a sense of team confidence for the Penguins and that would explain the 11 game unbeaten streak during Crosby’s 29 point tear.
Defensively, goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson have been extremely dependable with solid goals-against averages of 2.44 and 2.00, respectively. Defensemen Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski are contributing offensively as well while maintaining impressive plus/minus ratings of +13 and +9, respectively. The combination of solid goaltending and defensive play coupled with the opponents inability to stop the determined Crosby makes the Penguins one of the best in the league right now, if not the best.
On Saturday, the Penguins face a solid Blue Jackets team who will test them throughout the contest but after that Crosby and the Penguins should roll through the following three games against the struggling New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres.
There is a very good chance we will see this unbeaten streak continue for at least four more games and who know how many points Crosby will accumulate during that time.