Now that they’re not getting enough from their other three lines, Crosby and Malkin are being split up again.
Two of the NHL’s top young stars will be centering different units on Thursday at Jobing.com Arena, where the Penguins will try to bounce back from a futile offensive effort when they face the Phoenix Coyotes.
Pittsburgh (5-3-2) scored 2.9 goals per game last season to finish as one of the NHL’s top-scoring teams, with Crosby (1.36 points per game) and Malkin (1.29) leading the way. They finished second and third in the league in ppg, respectively.
Those two aren’t having trouble producing points this season, either - Malkin has 15 points and Crosby 13 - but they’re not getting much help elsewhere, and the Penguins are averaging 2.4 goals through 10 games.
After a four-game stretch where the Penguins scored only eight goals, Therrien decided to put Malkin and Crosby together, a move that has certainly strengthened the team’s top grouping.
But the other lines have hardly accounted for anything. Since Therrien put Crosby and Malkin together, those two have both recorded a point on nine of the team’s 12 goals.
A game after Pittsburgh was outshot 18-2 in the third period, blowing a lead and eventually losing 3-2 in a shootout to the New York Rangers, the Penguins mustered a franchise record-low tying 11 shots Tuesday in a 2-1 loss at San Jose.
“It’s frustrating, (because) you want to create chances and find ways to put pucks in the net,” said Crosby, who assisted on Pittsburgh’s lone goal. “We have to find ways to score. … We don’t feel sorry for ourselves, and we don’t want people to feel sorry for us.”
The Penguins will run into another team that’s having trouble scoring on Thursday. Phoenix (3-4-0) posted seven goals while winning its first two games, but has scored just eight while losing four of its past five.
The Coyotes’ struggles continued on Saturday. They were outshot 36-24 and lost 4-1 to Calgary, failing to score on the power play for the fourth straight game.
“(The Flames) did exactly what we knew they would do, and unfortunately, we had only a handful of guys ready for that sort of work ethic,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said.
Like the Penguins, Gretzky has decided to switch up his lines. Three Coyotes have scored at least three goals - Peter Mueller, rookie Mikkel Boedker and captain Shane Doan - and they’ll be split up on Thursday.
“We’ve been pretty satisfied with our attention to defensive detail, especially with such a young group,” Gretzky told the team’s official Web site. “I just think we need to find some combinations. We’re just trying to create some offense, which we desperately need.”
The Penguins have won their last three against Phoenix, including a 3-1 victory at Mellon Arena last season.