Courtesy of PNC

Stats ‘N’ At: Blue-line decline, Liriano’s heat, universal DH

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Penguins defenseman Chris Letang -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Who, exactly, are the 2018-2019 Penguins? They're capable of toppling elite teams, and getting boat-raced by clubs buried in the standings. They're lethal on the power play -- for both teams. They're blessed with goaltending depth, unless the two-time Stanley Cup-winning netminder runs cold or gets banged up, or Casey DeSmith returns to earth. They are, much to the chagrin of coach Mike Sullivan, a team without a clear and consistent identity.

That identity crisis extends to the blue line, where the Penguins feature a Norris Trophy contender in Kris Letang, a stealth shutdown player in Brian Dumoulin ... and then what, exactly? There are some high-priced veterans and young talent with upside. But, outside of Letang and Dumoulin, the Penguins haven't received nearly enough from their defensemen this season. Which makes the imminent return -- and hopefully, return to form -- of two-way standout Justin Schultz a necessity, rather than a nice-to-have addition.

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