(Yeah, we forced this headline. But so what?)
While having Alex Goligoski pressed into service with the team's top power-play unit is hardly an ideal situation for the Penguins, the results have been pretty successful from an individual statistical standpoint.
Having netted three goals through his first 11 games this season, Goligoski has scored 0.27 goals per game. Should he play in the team's remaining 70 games and maintain that pace, he will reach a mark of 22 goals. That would shatter the team record of 12 set by Zarley Zalapski during the 1988-89 season and it would challenge the NHL record of 23 by the Rangers' Brian Leetch which was also established in 1988-89.
But those are admittedly big "ifs" considering Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar should return to the lineup at some point and would surely get more time on the team's top power-play unit and more opportunities with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in even-strength situations. It's even possible the return of Gonchar or Whitney could force the Penguins to demote Goligoski to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton where he would get more playing time.
Either way, Goligoski has a chance to be become the top goal-scoring rookie defenseman in team history.
A look of the highest goal totals in by rookie defensemen in franchise history:
|Zarley Zalapski, 1988-89||12|
|George Konik, 1974-75||6|
|Kris Letang, 2007-08||6|
|Norm Schmidt, 1983-84||6|
|Ryan Whitney, 2005-06||6|
|Paul Stanton, 1990-91||5|
|Doug Bodger, 1984-85||5|
|Randy Boyd, 1982-83||4|
|Colin Campbell, 1974-75||4|
|Michal Rozsival, 1999-2000||4|
|Ville Siren, 1985-86||4|
|Alex Goligoski, 2008-09||3|
|Jim Johnson, 1985-86||3|
|Hans Jonsson, 1999-2000||3|
|Bill Speer, 1967-68||3|
|Martin Strbak, 2003-04||3|
NOTE: According to the league's web site, the NHL defines a rookie season as such:
"To be considered a rookie, a player must not have played in 25 or more NHL games in any preceding seasons, nor in six or more NHL games in each of any two preceding seasons. Any player at least 26 years of age (by September 15th of that season) is not considered a rookie."
So Kris Letang's first season of 2006-07 when he played in only seven games was not his rookie season technically. He was officially regarded as a rookie in 2007-08.
UPDATE: Tom Kovach, a very heads up EN reader, informed us George Konik was a forward in his brief time with the Penguins. A check of Konik's Legends of Hockey page reveals he played both positions at various points of his professional career.
EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS
-The Penguins' recent road trip wasn't easy.
-Does Sidney Crosby get too much attention?
-The same day he was demoted by the NHL club, forward Chris Minard had a hat trick for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 4-3 win at Houston. Janne Pesonen, who was also demoted yesterday, had two assists.
-Minard might be off to the best individual start in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton history.
-EN contributor Eric Politowski found the video of Minard's hat trick:
-Eric also put together a video showing all of the Penguins' goals from the first seven games:
-As if that wasn't enough, Eric also spotted this random video of Zigmund Palffy, then with the Kings, burning the Penguins' Johan Hedburg:
-The Devils are uncertain about the severity of Martin Brodeur's elbow injury.
-The Islanders are promoting forward Kyle Okposo (right), the team's first-round pick in 2006, to the first line.
-No wonder the Rangers are off to such a fast start. They're drinking cherry juice.
-Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn found a way to be on the ice for all five of the goals his team gave up yesterday. We bet he drowned a lot of puppies last night.
-Flyers forward Jared Ross is the first player in NHL history who was born and raised in Alabama.
-Was goaltender Alex Auld the only good signing by the Senators this offseason?
-Senators prospect Alexander Nikulin demanded a trade.
-Sabres forward Ales Kotalik is strong.
-Ilya Kovachuk (above) had two goals and an assist for the Thrashers in a 5-3 win against the Panthers.
-Thrashers forward and former Penguin Erik Christensen was promoted to Kovlachuk's line and played strong yesterday. He had the primary assists on both of Kovalchuk's goals.
-Dwight Helminen, Chad LaRose, Tuomo Ruutu, Eric Staal and Ray Whitney each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes in a 6-4 defeat of Toronto.
-With forward Matt Cullen dealing with a leg injury, the Hurricanes recalled forward Patrick Dwyer from Albany of the AHL.
-Will the Hurricanes be haunted by the deal that sent forward Erik Cole to the Oilers?
-Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau isn't happy with his team.
-Panthers forward Cory Stillman is dealing with a facial injury.
-Former Penguins forward Mark Recchi is scared of Lightning teammate Evgeny Artyukhin.
-Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Zetterberg each had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings in a 3-2 win in Vancouver.
-In his first game back since coming off injured reserve, Blue Jackets forward Raffi Torres made an impact.
-Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger (right), who hails from a certain part of a certain battleground state, is being promoted to Columbus' top line.
-Detroit's bottom two lines aren't producing.
-The Predators have a big road trip coming up.
-We're a little late with this, but Blackhawks forward Adam Burish is writing a blog for the Chicago Sun-Times.
-Blues rookie forward T.J. Oshie suffered a dreaded high-ankle sprain against the Penguins Saturday night.
-Ales Hemsky had two goals and an assist for the Oilers in a 5-4 win at Philadelphia.
-Canucks forward Jannik Hansen is dealing with a groin injury.
-Wild forward James Sheppard wants to produce more.
-Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr (right), one of the most underrated players in the entire league, is dealing with an unspecified injury.
-Milan Michalek and Devin Setoguchi each had two goals in San Jose's 5-3 win at Colorado.
-Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist for the Ducks who edged the Flames, 3-2. The loss ended a six-game winning streak for Calgary.
-Anaheim played like a Stanley Cup contender last night.
-Ducks defenseman Kent Huskins is dealing with a facial injury.
-Dallas co-general manager Brett Hull is not happy with his underachieving squad.
-The Stars demoted forward James Neal and defenseman Mark Fistric to Manitoba of the AHL and forward Chris Connor to Peoria of the AHL.
-Stars forward Fabian Brunnstrom, one of the league's most hyped rookies, has been inconsistent so far.
-Have the Kings ever recovered from Marty McSorley's illegal stick?
-The NHLPA is exploring the option of opening the CBA this spring.
(Photos: Okposo-Jim McIsaac/Getty Images; Kovalchuk-Gregory Smith/Associated Press; Umberger-David Zalubowski/Associated Press; Regehr-Tim Smith/Getty Images)