The Pittsburgh Penguins have plenty of weapons at their disposal, but one young player has stood above the rest to lead the NHL with seven goals thus far in the postseason. Jake Guentzel, who has played on the top line for the duration of the playoffs, has been yet another goal-scoring phenom added to the Penguins’ dynamic offense.
And now with the unfortunate news that captain Sidney Crosby was diagnosed with a concussion after Game 3, the Penguins’ coaching staff will look to other scoring forwards to push an even more balanced offensive attack. With his team leading the Washington Capitals 2-games-1 and Game 4 ready to take place in Pittsburgh tonight, Guentzel will hope that his goal-scoring prowess didn’t leave the series with Crosby.
DOB: Oct. 6, 1994
Birthplace: Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A
Ht: 5’11” Wt: 180 lbs.
Drafted: 2013 Pittsburgh Penguins 3rd rd, 16th pick (77th overall)
College: University of Nebraska – Omaha (2013-14 through 2015-16)
First Career Goal
November 21, 2016 vs. New York Rangers — 5-2 L (2 goals in first period)
Penguins Depth Chart
- Guentzel ranked seventh among Penguins forwards in average time on ice (15:53) during the regular season.
- He has played the majority of the regular season with Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary on the first line (27.22%).
- He has played the majority of the postseason with Crosby and Sheary on the first line (51.41%).
- Guentzel’s seven postseason goals is currently tops in the NHL.
- He has scored 10 points this postseason, tying him for fourth in the league.
- He is tied for 25th in the league with just 21 shots this postseason. He has taken less shots than players such as Max Pacioretty (28), Patrick Kane (23), James van Riemsdyk (23) and William Nylander (23); all players were ousted in the first round.
- Despite playing in just 40 games during the regular season, Guentzel’s 33 points ranked ninth on the Penguins.
- His 19.8 shooting percentage during the regular season was second on the team.
Guentzel is a quick and tenacious NHL forward. Although he was a third-round pick, analysts and scouts have always felt that he possesses the proper amount of hockey IQ, quickness and puck skills to play in the NHL; his only knock through the years is his size.
You wouldn’t guess it by watching him play, though, as he has rounded himself into a finess player with a slight physical presence. He has excellent balance, making him a threat from shooting areas and loose-puck battles in front of the net or in the corners. There’s a reason he was Omaha-Nebraska’s leading collegiate point scorer (46) in his final season.
However, even with his supreme shot release, Guentzel’s true test comes tonight. Without superstar Crosby by his side for the first time this postseason, Guentzel will have to prove that he doesn’t need the best player in the game to be a difference maker. Watching Guentzel’s performance, as well as linemate Sheary’s, without their elite center will be a priority for the Pittsburgh coaching staff moving forward.
Stay tuned with the Everything Hockey blog for coverage throughout the playoffs, including previews and predictions for each round.
Feature photo courtesy NHL.com
Line stats courtesy Dobber Hockey
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