Here we are over 25 percent into this shortened 2020-21 NHL season and the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to have ups and downs. With new players continuing to step up, this team is trending in the right direction. Today, we examine three Pittsburgh Penguins players impacting this team’s performance right now.
Bryan Rust and Other Standouts
Mike Matheson a Great Fit in Penguins System
Mike Matheson has really started to show what he can do of late. Although his first couple games in a Pittsburgh Penguins uniform were anything but spectacular, he has made huge strides recently. Upon returning from injury, Matheson has been a shot of energy on the blue line. Matheson’s foot speed has been evident, as he has used his skating ability effectively to join the attack many times. His offensive instincts have been on full display as he’s potted a couple of goals. As well as created some great offensive chances.
Reunited with John Marino, the swift-skating defenseman has really started to show he can be a contributor for this Penguins team. Marino and Matheson are the Penguins’ most frequently deployed pairing at even-strength to date. In over 120 minutes together, they hold the advantage in possession metrics with a 52.5% Corsi. They have outscored opponents eight to four while having 55.4% of the scoring chances.
Bryan Rust is Legit
Bryan Rust‘s career has been a journey Penguins fans have followed ever since he was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Rust was promoted from Wilkes-Barre Scranton in the 2014-15 season and bounced around the bottom-six for the majority of a few seasons. He earned the moniker “Big-game Bryan Rust” for his ability to score goals when the Penguins needed them the most. His most renowned of such performances was his two goals in Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Bryan Rust’s career hit a low point in the 2018-19 season when he scored only one goal in the first 29 games of the season. He rebounded though, finishing the season with 17 goals in his last 43 games. Last season it appeared Bryan Rust had finally put it all together. Staying mostly healthy combined with consistent point production took his level of play to a whole new level. Rust led the team in goals with 27.
For those keeping track at home, since Bryan Rust’s breakout in December of 2019, he has put up a remarkable. 0.74 points per game. In 143 games, Rust has 51 goals, 55 assists, a shooting percentage of 14.5%. When he is on the ice, the Penguins score almost 55% of the goals.
This season, Rust has picked up right where he left off. With 15 points in the first 16 games, he has solidified his spot in the top-six. Rust’s $3.5M contract is a steal. He works hard battling for pucks but can also snipe from either wing. On top of that, he has proven chemistry with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Bryan Rust is the real deal, and here’s to his continued success.
Tristan Jarry Finally Starting to Heat Up
Tristan Jarry had a rough start in his first crack at the Penguins starting goalie job. With Matt Murray traded to Canada’s capital, Jarry is the unquestioned heir to the net. Statically one of the worst goalies in the NHL in the first month plus, Jarry struggled to find his footing and looked nothing like the All-Star we saw last year. In his last few starts, he has made huge progress, posting a .945 save percentage and has allowed only 2.02 goals per game.
If Jarry’s play can stabilize at a high level, it would give the Penguins a number one they can count on. Consistently strong goaltending is hard to come by in today’s NHL. Tristan Jarry deserves a huge stick tap for his play of late. His confidence getting this small boost is great for his mentality. He just needs to stay focused on the game in front of him. The defencemen playing in front of him being NHL-caliber helps with goal-prevention too.