Penguins' head coach Dan Bylsma has a luxury unprecedented by the other 29 teams in the NHL. His first line center is arguably the best player in the world, his second line center possesses superstar talent unmatched by 98% of the league, and his third line center would be a top line player on most NHL teams.

At times, Bylsma will pair his top two centermen, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, on the same shift in hopes of sparking some offense. Bob Errey frequently uses the term "two-headed monster" as a nickname for Crosby and Malkin. However, with the emergence of Jordan Staal, the Penguins have a "three-headed monster", uncontested by anyone else in the NHL.

Through the first quarter of the regular season, Staal has 12 goals which is good enough for 6th in the league, while contributing 18 total points. Not bad for a guy who plays on the third line, typically a spot for strong defensive players with seldom scoring ability. Yet this 23 year old star has added a scoring touch and looks to be well on his way to passing his career high in goals (29) when he was a rookie. After struggling through injuries last season, Staal has come back looking more comfortable and confident in his abilities.

Over the first five years of his career, Staal has been heavily criticized due to how slow he appeared to be on the ice. His decision making, skating, shooting all seemed to take too long to develop during games. While his brother, Eric, was a Stanley Cup champion and elite-level centerman offensively and defensively, Jordan was viewed as a lesser player due to how uncoordinated he seemed to play. Crosby "flies" down the ice, Malkin "glides", while Staal "lumbers." His only value, it appeared, was killing penalties. Now, a more aggressive Jordan Staal is taking the league by force thanks to what would appear to be more confidence in his physical ability and size. At 6'4 220 pounds, he is extremely tough to knock off the puck combined with his unusually soft hands (24.5% shot percentage). While the offensive side of Staal's game has picked up, the defensive side is still as strong as ever. The Penguins continue to be one of the top 5 teams in the league in penalty killing thanks, large part, to Jordan Staal.

He may not be the most electrifying player, especially on a team with two of the most exciting players in the NHL, but Staal is the key ingredient to a Stanley Cup team. Opposing teams try to match their best defensive unit with Sidney Crosby's line while Evgeni Malkin usually receives a tough assignment against a playoff team's second defensive pairing. With only three defensive pairings on a standard NHL roster, that usually creates a mismatch between the Staal-Kennedy-Cooke line and the third defensive pairing sent out to stop them.

With the emergence of their third center, Jordan Staal, the Penguins may need to start adopting the nickname "three-headed monster." Then again, Dan Bylsma may have already beaten everyone to the punch as he used Crosby-Malkin-Staal as a line in Friday night's game against the Ottawa Senators. The talent the Penguins possess up the middle can be overwhelming and, at times, unstoppable. If all three players can stay healthy in the Spring, the Penguins could find themselves carving another roster into the Stanley Cup.

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