Oct 12, 2011, 12:15 AM EDT
You’d think that the Pittsburgh Penguins would suffer a bit without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the lineup. Crosby’s still dealing with his concussion while Malkin has lower-body soreness that’s keeping him out of action. While Pittsburgh still has Jordan Staal and Kris Letang to spur their offense on, it’s a cast of unknown and infamous characters helping them roll along.
Chances are you don’t know Joe Vitale but we’re pretty sure you know who Matt Cooke is. Instead of creating a new talking point for controversy, Cooke is scoring goals and keeping it clean to help the offense roll along. For a guy that’s better known for his defensive play, getting three goals in four games from Cooke is stunning.
Vitale won a job in training camp and he’s taking full advantage of the added playing time. Vitale has teamed up with Cooke to provide the Penguins with a depth line that’s catching opponents off guard in a big way. Just ask Florida, which saw Vitale school them with a sweet pass to Cooke to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead in its 4-2 win. The win helped the Pens improve to 3-0-1 to start the season, their best start in 17 years.
Getting the bonus offense from Pascal Dupuis, Craig Adams, and Richard Park helps this no-name Pittsburgh team show that what they did last season without Crosby and Malkin isn’t a fluke. Instead, it’s just a lesson that Dan Bylsma didn’t win the Jack Adams Award for no good reason. If the Pens are rolling along like this now, just think of how they’ll be with Crosby and Malkin back in the lineup.
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