Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Schultz's Stat Incredible

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Schultz's Stat Incredible

Article excerpt

When I think about the most amazing statistics in Penguins history, I think of Mario Lemieux's 85 goals and 199 points in the 1988-89 season and the team's NHL-record 17-game winning streak in 1992-93 and, more recently, Evgeni Malkin's 50 goals in 2011-12 and Matt Murray's 22-9 record in the postseason with a 1.95 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. But a current Penguins player has a stat that might be the most impressive one going in the NHL right now. His plus-56 rating in 153 games since joining the team in March 2016 is the league's best in that time.

Justin Schultz.

I didn't believe it, either, but it's true.

"I try not to pay too much attention to that," Schultz said Sunday after his plus-2, three-assist day in the 5-4 overtime win against Philadelphia. "I've been on the other end of that."

That's no lie.

In 248 games with the Edmonton Oilers before he was traded to the Penguins, Schultz was a minus-78. That's one reason Jim Rutherford was able to get him for a third-round draft choice, a steal if there ever was one. The Oilers were so eager to get rid of Schultz that they agreed to pick up half of his $3.9 million salary. It might be Rutherford's greatest trade, right there with his deals for Patric Hornqvist and Trevor Daley. There's no arguing that it was the best thing that has happened to Schultz.

"They've got great players here. It makes it easy on me," Schultz said. "It's a great team to be on. I'm pretty lucky. Great teammates and great coaches, who help you along the way and get your confidence up. It's just a fun environment to be in."

Winning two Stanley Cup titles in two years and having a real chance at a third in the next few months helps.

Schultz has been a big part of it, especially the Cup march last season. He bet on himself after the first Cup run, taking a big pay cut to stay with the Penguins last season in a situation he loved rather than leaving for more as a free agent. …

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