PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Despite injuries to vital players throughout the lineup, Pittsburgh enters the month of November atop the NHL with 18 points.
The Penguins (8-3-2) hold a five-point advantage over the Philadelphia Flyers in the Atlantic Division and a three-point lead over Toronto for tops in the Eastern Conference going into Monday night’s games. All that despite playing without the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Tyler Kennedy, Brooks Orpik and Zbynek Michalek for extended periods of time.
Much of the credit can go to guys like forward James Neal, defenseman Kris Letang and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who all rank among NHL leaders in important statistical categories.
Neal is second in the league with nine goals and ranks 13th in overall points with 11 while Letang is tied for second in the NHL with 10 assists.
In goal, Fleury is second among all goaltenders with seven wins and has a shut out to his name. He’s also eighth in save percentage (.934) and sixth in goals against average (1.86). Both of those numbers are much improved on his career averages of a .909 save percentage and 2.71 goals against average.
Areas that have helped the Penguins find success are multiple as well.
Without their best faceoff man in Crosby, the Penguins are fifth in the league, winning 52.8 percent of their draws. Much of that success can be credited to guys like Richard Park (58 percent) and Joe Vitale (56.3 percent).
Special teams have been strong, too, as the Pens are top 10 in both the power play and penalty kill. Pittsburgh is ninth in the NHL in power play efficiency at 21.8 percent and second in the penalty kill at 92.3 percent.
The schedule now calms down a bit as Pittsburgh has just two games over the next 10 days. The Penguins next game is Thursday night at San Jose.