The Pittsburgh Penguins are in the midst of trying to win the Metropolitan Division to secure home ice for the first two playoff rounds. They also are in the process of trying to make even more history. There are a lot of factors that go into making a Stanley Cup run such as goaltending, PDO, luck, but also depth. Bryan Rust has been one of the Penguins most underrated players this season and he’s someone that they can’t afford to lose. No one would’ve been saying that a couple years ago when he first got called up. Let’s take a look at why he’s so valuable to the team.
Bryan Rust Crucial to Pittsburgh Penguins Quest For Three-peat
Can play anywhere
Rust can play on any line on any wing for the Penguins which is a great luxury to have. He’s been on the top line this season with Sidney Crosby and he’s also spent a bit of time on the third line with Phil Kessel. Heck, he’s been a fourth-line winger sometimes this season with Riley Sheahan. Rust just makes the team deeper and if a player like him is in the bottom six of a team, then they’re very deep.
He also makes each line that he plays on better. Before being taken off Derick Brassard‘s left wing after just a few games, it was evident that he was kickstarting Brassard a bit. In just his first game back from the lineup, Rust scored on a pass from Brassard against the Rangers last week. He ultimately went to Crosby’s line to help him out a bit, but that’s the great luxury of having a player like Rust.
There were definitely lots of people who doubted if Rust could produce well in the NHL. But he’s done just that in his first few seasons. Despite only playing in 59 games this year, he has 12 goals and 36 points. Over a full 82-game season, he’d be on pace for close to 20 goals and over 50 points. He hasn’t been able to play a full 82 game season yet as even last year he only played 57 games. His CF% this season though is the best it’s been as it’s at 54.6%.
His playoff production is where it gets even better. Nicknamed “Big Game Bryan” by some, he has 18 points in 46 career playoff games with 13 of those points being goals. He scored the go-ahead goal against the Lightning in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final in 2016 to send the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final. He also scored the series clincher against the Washington Capitals just last year:
He also scored the game-winning goal against the Blue Jackets in Game 5 of their playoff series last year:
He’s a player that can score a huge goal at the perfect time and has proven to be a very underrated playoff performer for Pittsburgh. They’ll need it again if they want to make history this spring.
Rust is usually one of the fastest players on the ice every game and can burn any team at will with his speed. Here’s his breakaway goal against Tampa in 2016 to ice the game:
He had a bit of a head start, but the way he broke away from Victor Hedman was impressive, as was the move on the goal. Just this season, he had another breakaway goal against the Lightning:
It seems just about every game that Rust is creating opportunities because he is so quick to the puck. Rust has proven to be a player the Penguin can’t lose during the regular season and playoffs and he’s only going to continue to get better.
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