NHL on NBCSN: Slumping Pens try to get back on track vs. Parise-less Wild


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Minnesota Wild at 7:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

If there’s one thing the Pittsburgh Penguins should be good at, it’s scoring goals.

With forwards like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel (just to name a few) many predicted the Penguins would fill up the net on a consistent basis, but that simply hasn’t happened.

Through 17 games, Pittsburgh has scored 35 goals, which is tied for 27th in the league. Only the Ducks and Flyers have found the back of the net less often than the Penguins in 2015-16.

Although it’s way too early to say things are crumbling in Pittsburgh, Malkin did make some interesting comments after Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Devils.

During a hit on TSN 690 radio in Montreal on Monday, NBC hockey Analyst Pierre McGuire weighed in on Pittsburgh’s struggles: “They do not have an identity, they do not,  and they don’t believe in the identity that they’re trying to have hung on them, which is as a defensive team…this is gonna be a problem.”

Since losing Zach Parise to a lower-body injury, the Wild have managed to stay afloat.

Minnesota has yet to lose in regulation during Parise’s absence (3-0-1), but it’s clear they’re better with him than without him.

On Monday, head coach Mike Yeo announced that Parise had begun skating on his own.

“He’s getting better,” Yeo said of Parise. “We’ll see where he’s at when we come home from the road trip.”

The Wild picked up three of a possible four points in the first two games of the trip and they will look to finish it off in style against Pittsburgh tonight and in Boston on Thursday.

It was after an embarrassing 7-2 loss in Pittsburgh last January that the Wild acquired goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

The move turned their season around.

The 29-year-old went 27-9-2 down the stretch and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.

“We believe in how good we are,” Dubnyk told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Monday. “It’s not that the group has changed a lot. I think we believe and know how good we can be when we play together and play well, and that’s an important thing to have.”

Dubnyk is currently tied with Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist for the league lead in wins (10).