When James Neal was acquired last season, the consensus was that he would be the long-term left winger for Sidney Crosby.

I didn’t buy it then, and I really don’t buy it now.

Crosby was on a torrent pace last season prior to his concussion while playing with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. He just doesn’t need a sniper winger to succeed.

Evgenin Malkin, for that matter, doesn’t either. But his game does elevate when he has someone competent to share the puck with.

More specifically, he seems to do well with big, power forward types. His days with Ryan Malone flanking his wing are proof.

Now, with Neal, he is once again proving why he is and should be in the conversation for the best player in the world. And how about Neal? He was playing well to start the season, even without Malkin, but now that the two of them have spent considerable time sharing the ice, he looks unstoppable.

It’s almost magical the chemistry Malkin and Neal have developed. Each time these two are on the ice, there is a legitimate chance the puck will find the back of the net. It’s been a long time since the Penguins have had a duo this lethal on the same line.

And just imagine the possibilities if Crosby returns – not because Neal might bounce to his wing, but rather because Crosby’s line will free up some ice for the “second” line.

As Penguins fans, we haven’t had a whole lot to get excited for with all of the injuries during the past two season. But with these two putting on an amazing show, it’s once again exciting to watch Penguin hockey. The sky is the limit for Malkin and Neal, and I have a feeling we’re seeing just the tip of the iceburgh. Enjoy it.