The Penguins got through the first round of this season's playoffs in six games. They got through the first round in last year's playoffs in six games as well. But things were a little different this time around. At least in terms of where the offense came from.
In 2009, the Penguins beat the Flyers, 4-2, but their offense was limited to a few sources. Mainly, their two best players, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, provided the bulk of it. Here's how the Penguins' 18 goals in last season's first round were spread out:
This year, Crosby and Malkin had similar contributions, but there was a lot more secondary scoring. They scored 24 goals against the Senators. Here's how it's spread out:
-First things first, for all his troubles against the Penguins, former Flyers goaltender Martin Biron presented a much more stable situation in net than the Senators platoon of Brian Elliott and Pascal Leclaire. That's probably the biggest contributing factor towards this discrepancy.
-The name that jumps out to us on that second list is Chris Kunitz. He was strong last year on the forecheck and had a decent 14-point contribution in last year's playoffs. But he was the target for scorn for many Penguins observers who felt a player on Sidney Crosby's line needed more production. Heck, he only had one goal during that entire two month span.
-Now, he has two goals and six points. He's doubled his goal-production and has nearly half of his overall point production from last year in only one round this year. And his forechecking hasn't suffered either.
-Despite losing Tyler Kennedy to an injury for a few games, the third line (Kennedy, Matt Cooke and Jordan Staal) production has jumped. Last year, Kennedy had two goals. This year, Cooke and Staal has combined for four.
-There's a slight decline on the blue line, but first, it's only by a goal. And frankly, it's probably not an exaggeration to say goals from Mark Eaton and Rob Scuderi were almost a fluke. Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski are offensive defensemen. They should get goals.
-Overall, it's pretty evident that if Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin are ever shut down (as happened in Game 6), there appears to more than a few sources of secondary scoring to fill the void (as happened in Game 6).
(Photos: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)