Making his playoff debut during last years Stanley Cup Playoffs, Jake Guentzel set himself apart. Over the 25 games Guentzel played throughout the 2016-17 playoffs for the Pittsburgh Penguins, he racked up 21 points (13 goals, eight assists), which tied the record set by Dino Ciccarelli in 1981 (14 goals, seven assists). He also had five critical game-winning goals.
Pittsburgh Penguins Jake Guentzel Playoff Heroics
He’s on even more of a tear to start this year’s playoffs. Drafted in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Guentzel is playing in just his first full season. An integral part of the Penguins 2017 Stanley Cup win, he already has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in just six games against the Philadelphia Flyers. Due to Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist‘s absences in the series, he has been getting more power-play time on the top unit. This is likely to continue heading into their second-round series against the Washington Capitals as Malkin will miss Game 1 of the second round.
Guentzel has proven he can be a key factor for the Penguins in their next series against the Capitals. He shares the team lead in points with linemate Sidney Crosby and led all Pittsburgh forwards in ice time at even strength. During that span, the Penguins outscored the Flyers 14-3.
In the series-clinching game against the Flyers, Guentzel scored four consecutive goals. This included tying the game late in the second period, and giving the Penguins the lead early in the third. His goals broke open a close game and sealed the Flyers fate.
Last year, Guentzel introduced the hockey world to his striking style of play. Despite a mediocre regular season, he knows how to produce in the playoffs. Even now, he’s still surprising his teammates each game. “That was something special. I’ve never seen anything like that. That’s about as hot as you can get. Really fun to watch and a huge performance for us,” said goaltender Matt Murray to Sam Kasan of NHL.com after Guentzel’s five-point night.
Guenztel has become a fixture on the top line with Crosby for the past two playoff seasons. The two seem to be feeding off one another extremely well once again; both are in a tie for the league lead in points. As one of the favoured players to win the Conn Smythe trophy last season, the 23-year-old is putting together another impressive case for the hardware. Of course, that’s if the Penguins can reach that level once again.
Main Photo: PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 22: Pittsburgh Penguins center Jake Guentzel (59) scores another one of his 4 goals against Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth (30) during the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers on April 22, 2018, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)