The Pittsburgh Penguins don’t get a lot of scoring from their depth players, so when James Neal goes eight games without a goal, people will notice. That’s how long it has been since Pittsburgh’s top goal scoring threat has found the back of the net—since January 10, when Neal potted one against the Edmonton Oilers in a losing effort.
It’s not that Neal isn’t making every attempt to score. It’s just that his shots aren’t finding their way to the net right now. On Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes, the 26-year-old sniper attempted ten shots—five of them missed the net and Phoenix blocked four.
For a Penguins team that relies heavily on the top-six for produce, that’s simply not good enough. Neal spoke to Rob Rossi of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and the suddenly ice-cold player had this to say about his scoring troubles:
You just need to go back to getting the puck in, maybe being a little bit more physical and maybe going to different areas. When you’re playing at the top of your game and feeling good each night, sometimes you can get a little complacent — and then when you start not playing well, it’s more noticeable.
Neal is capable of being one of the league’s top-10 goal scorers in a season where he stays healthy for a majority of the games. He’s been in and out of the lineup for Pittsburgh, skating in only 34 of Pittsburgh’s 55 games. His output still has him on pace for a 30-plus goal season, but the Penguins need a bit more out of him right now.
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