Malkin, Crosby and Neal Help Penguins Further Their Dominance in the East

Written by Frank Castaldi on .

How scary are the Pittsburgh Penguins right now? Sidney Crosby's four points last night were merely an afterthought. That scary.

If anyone thought that the dagger that Scott Hartnell launched into the Penguins' heart with just under a second remaining in Sunday afternoon's overtime thriller would slow them, boy, were they mistaken.

The Penguins responded after their first loss (still perfect in regulation) in the past 11 games, with an 8-4 thumping of the Winnipeg Jets, Tuesday night.

Sure, Crosby continued to show his dominance over nearly everyone else in the NHL not named Evgeni, adding four more helpers to his stat sheet, but his performance was probably the least of the Jets' worries.

Evgeni Malkin had five points of his own, scoring goals 42 and 43, while James Neal netted a hat trick. Neal's three-goal effort, added him to a four-way tie for fourth place in goal scoring, as he joins Marian Gaborik, Corey Perry and Hartnell, all with 35.

 

It wasn't like the Jets had nothing to play for, either. Entering the game, Winnipeg was only four points behind division-rival Washington for the eighth seed, and seven behind the Florida Panthers for the lead of the Southeast Division.

The Penguins are simply that dominant.

For anyone idiots that were concerned that Crosby's rejoining the Pens' lineup would cause some sort of commotion of chemistry amongst the already rolling squad: You may now be quiet, tuck your tail between your legs and feel shame.

Since coming back to the lineup last Thursday against the Eastern-leading New York Rangers, Crosby has done nothing but solidify the Penguins' third line as a potent scoring force, giving them even more depth.

The line of Tyler Kennedy, Crosby and Matt Cooke, has been a brilliant compliment to the already dangerous top-two units. Since Crosby's addition, Cooke and Kennedy have seen an instant bolster in their offensive production. Cooke has scored four goals (25-percent of his goals this season) since adding Crosby as his pivot, while adding two assists. Kennedy has also seen a recent spike, as his two goals in Tuesday night's victory, boosted his points to six (four assists) since Sid's return.

And of course, there's Crosby himself.

Since returning from his second stint on the shelf with concussion-related symptoms, Crosby has scored nine points (all assists) in four games. In addition to his 12 points he scored in the first eight games he played earlier this season, Crosby's scoring pace is at an incredible rate.

With 21 points in 12 games played, Crosby is scoring at a clip of 1.75 points per game. Projected over the course of an 82-game season, that pace would have Sidney finishing the year with roughly 144 points.

Let me put that in perspective: The last time an NHL player recorded a 140-point season, was in 1995-96, when coincidentally a pair of Penguins, Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, scored 161 and 149 points, respectively. In fact, in the past 10 NHL seasons, there have only been three players to even top the 120-point marker--Crosby being one of them with 120 points in 2006-07.

Remember, that type of production is coming from the Penguins' THIRD line.

Rangers, check under your beds. Flyers, inspect your closets. New Jersey, Ottawa and Boston, look into your mirrors and say Ron Francis' name three times. And Washington and Florida, well, it doesn't really matter, you guys were toast anyway... Eastern Conference beware: The Penguins are comin' to getcha!

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