Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets each extend streaks
The play of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins has been remarkable of late, providing more great storylines during this wacky NHL season.
Though they are close geographically, it’s not often you’ll find the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets mentioned in the same breath unless they’re playing against each other. However, Friday night, both squads extended respective streaks.
The Penguins earned a 4-2 win against the New York Islanders to push their winning streak to 11 consecutive games. Meanwhile, in Columbus, the Blue Jackets rolled over the Calgary Flames, 5-1, to extend their streak of games with at least one standings point to 12, going 8-0-4 over that span.
It’s been that kind of year. The Chicago Blackhawks set the standard with points in 24 consecutive games to start the season, but what’s happening with Pittsburgh and Columbus is also quite remarkable, especially with the stakes increasing as the season progresses.
The Penguins haven’t lost a game in the month of March and have dominated at times and at others have just found a way to win. In its last five games Pittsburgh has allowed a grand total of five goals, six of the games during the streak have been one-goal wins, on seven occasions the Pens have allowed two goals or less and have scored three or more goals in all but two games during the streak. This is a team that is good and getting better.
Everything seems to click for the Pens right now and that's even without Evgeni Malkin for the last seven games.
Chris Kunitz scored his 19th goal of the season Friday night, while Sidney Crosby notched his 38th and 39th assists, further extending his league lead to a ridiculous 52 points. Tomas Vokoun made 33 saves and has won his last five decisions, including one in which he gave up six goals. Again, Tomas Vokoun.
The Pens have been rumored to be looking to make a move at the deadline and maybe they will, but things are just rolling right now. It will be interesting to see if they want to “mess” with a good thing.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets are still trying to find a way to sneak into a playoff spot. Despite the 12-game point streak, Columbus sits ninth in the Western Conference, but is just two points away from sixth. There’s still work to be done in Columbus.
That said, Sergei Bobrovsky has rightfully received the accolades and the headlines. He’s started all but one game during the streak and has seen a lot of pucks, having faced more than 30 shots in seven of the 12 games during the streak. Bobrovsky has a staggering .956 save percentage over that span.
What makes the streak all the more remarkable is the utter lack of offense, until the last two games, the Blue Jackets have been able to generate.
The Blue Jackets have scored nine goals over their last two games, which accounts for 27 percent of the goals scored during the 12-game streak.
Vinny Prospal is the team’s leading scorer with 18 points. That would put him eighth on the Penguins.
Perhaps the most staggering statistic is that only three games during the streak have been decided in regulation. Five games have ended with a shootout, while four have ended in overtime. Columbus is 3-2 in shootouts during the streak and 2-2 in overtime. That’s a lot of extra hockey right there.
Columbus is kind of defying logic right now. After trading away Rick Nash, it wasn’t expected to be an easy rebuild, but this team is giving Blue Jackets fans some hope for a quicker turnaround. Coincidentally, the New York Rangers, which acquired Nash, have 32 points in the standings, same as Columbus.
It doesn’t make sense, but there’s been a lot of that in this abbreviated season. This is the exact right kind of crazy for the NHL coming out of the lockout.
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