Pittsburgh Penguins remain unbeaten in Olympic play

Evgeni Malkin had three points in his first game for Russia.

Evgeni Malkin had three points in his first game for Russia.

 

With Canada’s dominating victory over Austria today, national teams with members of the Penguins on their rosters improved to a perfect 6-0.

And how have these Penguins performed?  Let’s take a closer look.

Canada: Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz- 

Perhaps the most perplexing case of the group, Sidney Crosby is clearly dialed in and playing well, however he has struggled to find his stride putting the puck in the back of the net.  Though he added an assist to Jeff Carter’s second goal against Austria today, Sid has been absent from the scoring sheet.

Which brings us to Chris Kunitz.  Without a doubt the most hotly contested member of the Canadian Olympic roster, Kunitz was brought on largely because of his chemistry with Crosby.  However in the two games he’s played so far, Kunitz has been anything but complementary.  The pair have failed to generate the chemistry they had in Pittsburgh, and as a result, Kunitz will likely sit the next game in favor of Patrick Sharp.

Crosby is not an easy guy to play with.  Coach Mike Babcock has tried both Jeff Carter and Martin St. Louis on Sid’s right side, but both have failed to generate any quality chances.  They will continue to shuffle the lines around until they find something that works, but who knows how long that will take. Matt Duchene would be my replacement for Kunitz, but then again I’m not the coach.

United States: Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik-

Not too much to say here after only one game.  While Brooks Orpik saw limited duty, Paul Martin and his new partner Ryan Suter played a team-high 19 minutes, 46 seconds as the team top pairing.  And while the pair skated well, both Orpik and Martin stated that they expected to play on the same pairing in the game against Russia Saturday. Orpik was brought in largely because of his experience with Martin in the nHL, so tomorrow should be interesting to see how they handle the wider ice together.

Finland: Jussi Jokinen and Olli Maata-

Finland is 2-0 with a goal differential of +9, thanks largely in part to the play of both Jokinen and Maatta.  Both recorded multiple points in Finland’s 8-4 win against Austria, however Maata has been a revelation on the blue line.  A goal this morning brought his point total to four (2G, 2A) in two games for the Finns.  He is tied with all other Olympic defenseman with two goals and four points.

Russia: Evgeni Malkin- 

Last but not least, Geno was a force for Team Russia in their 5-2 victory over Slovenia.  After assisting on Alexander Ovichekin’s opening goal in the first period, Malkin followed it up by scoring on a breakaway several minutes later.  He added an assist on Ilya Kovalchuck’s goal to bring his total to three points in his first game.  Malkin and the Russians face Team USA tomorrow morning.