Feb 9, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) skates with the puck while being defended by New Jersey Devils right wing Stephen Gionta (11) during the first period at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Penguins second line lacking production

With all of the complaints the Pittsburgh Penguins power play has received throughout the first 13 games, there is a more glaring problem that needs attention.

That would be the Pens woes scoring even strength, especially that of the second line.

February 3, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing James Neal (18) skates with the puck against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Evgeni Malkin and James Neal have had plenty of success together on the power play, being on the ice for 22 points, but look more closely at how they have performed at even strength and you can see there is a problem.

The Penguins in general have had their problems scoring at even strength.

The Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis-Chris Kunitz combination has combined for 19 points when on the ice together, but no other forward combination has combined for more than six points on the season

That includes the Malkin-Crosby-Kunitz combo, which has produced six points, the same as the Malkin-Neal-Eric Tangradi line.

No other combination of Malkin-Neal and anyone else has combined for more than two points so far this season (stats via Dobber Hockey).

With the season already a quarter of the way through, these numbers make it apparent that the Penguins probably need a legitimate top six forward in order to contend.

The Pens must be able to produce better when at even strength and they must get more from the second line in the process.

That is something that Penguins’ general manager Ray Shero likely won’t hesitate to address.

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Tags: Evgeni Malkin James Neal Pittsburgh Penguins

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