Past months grades and Pensburgh Player of the Month:
The Penguins registered a 7-5-1 record in December; they rounded back into health and started off playing very well before a little malaise that's seen them lose four of the last five games. We're all ready to turn over a new leaf in 2010, but let's take a look at the December 09 performances.
|Marc-Andre Fleury||B||(6-4-1, 2.49 GAA, .912 save percentage on the month) Overall it was a good month for Fleury, even if it didn't end well with losses in 3 of his last 4 games. He managed to hold opponents to 2 or fewer goals in seven of his eleven games, but he did have four games with a sub-.900 save percentage.|
|Brent Johnson||A||(1-1-0, 1.21 GAA .961 save %) He's only going to get 3-5 games a month, but it doesn't mean he can't earn a good grade. So far Johnson's been everything you could ask for in a backup goalie: uncomplaining about limited playing but ultra-reliable when called upon.|
(10 games played, 0 goals, 0 assists, +3, 2 penalty minutes) Playing unnoticeable hockey is a compliment for a defensive defenseman, and Eaton had a relatively quiet month in all facets.
(10gp, 0g, 2a, -2, 4 PIMs) Hasn't shown the offensive flair that made him player of the month in October, Goligoski has had a rough month and ended up getting bounced from the top power play unit.
|Sergei Gonchar||B+||(13gp, 2g, 8a, +3, 6 PIMs) Gonchar's play on the ice has reverted to it's typical very high levels. He's averaging 25:01 per night, and no one plays more time on the PK than him either (3:06). Solid.|
(13 gp, 0g, 3a, +3, 2 PIMs) Hasn't produced a lot of points, but he did have 23 shots on goal in the month, good enough for second among defenseman (behind Gonch, of course).
|Jay McKee||B||(12gp, 0g, 2a, +1, 6 PIMs) McKee's blocking shots (1st on team with 93 on the season) and playing steady defense for his teammates. He's playing his role to the "T".|
(13gp, 0g, 5a, +8, 12 PIMs) Best plus/minus on the team this month and some heady passes to teammates, the future Olympian is on his game.
(7gp, 0g, 0a, -1, 2 PIMs) Skoula's got to be one of the best insurance policies in the league as a 7th defenseman. Whenever he's been plugged in, he's been unspectacularly decent.
(13gp, 0g, 2a, even, 17 PIMs) He fights (not very well), he shoots (not very well) he takes faceoffs (44.0% win rate on the year). Adams is plugging away, but if his performance isn't improved he might be back to healthy scratch territory.
(12gp, 2g, 2a, even, 10 PIMs) Some nights he's a difference maker, some nights he doesn't contribute all that much. Typical 3rd line stuff from a 3rd liner.
(12gp, 6g, 9a, +4, 4 PIMs) Got on the scoreboard in 10 of the 11 games that the Penguins registered a goal this month and stayed near the top of the league leaders in goals, points and faceoffs. Just another month of excellence on a winning hockey team for Sidney Crosby.
|Pascal Dupuis||B-||(13gp, 2g, 3a, +1, 0 PIM) Was hot in November and cooled a little bit; his shots were down 42% from last month to this month (31 to 18) and his goals dropped 60% (from 5 to 2). Dupuis is in an offensive role as a Top 6 winger, so he needs to play offensively.|
(12 gp, 3g, 1a, -1, 10 PIMs) Fedotenko's career has shown periods of dry spells and then bursts of a lot of production. We're still looking for the latter in this season.
(8gp, 0g, 1a, +1, 13 PIMs) Only one fight in the month of December (Riley Cote on Dec 15th) and he took four minor penalties. The least a non-contributing member of the team like Godard can do is not give the other team power plays.
(13gp, 6g, 5a, +3, 5 PIMs) Guerin doubled his season's goal total in December, fed some really nice passes and don't forget a fight against a young whippersnapper. "Dad" is fired up and playing some great hockey.
(12gp, 0g, 1a, -2, 4 PIMs) Kennedy's month started with him losing a shootout and the "honor" of growing a mustache all month. That was an omen for things to come, rough December for TK that saw him get scratched for the first time. Now the 'stache is gone, and hopefully the goals will be back.
|Chris Kunitz||B+||(9gp, 3g, 5a, +1, 6 PIMs) Kunitz returned from injury on Dec 12th and has played at nearly a point per game rate since, a very encouraging month. 4 of his assists were of the PP variety, Kunitz will be an important player in getting it turned around.|
(13gp, 5g, 8a, +1, 28 PIMs) For a lot of players, this would be a solid month, but Malkin is out of sorts. He's going to the penalty box a lot -- none of his total are from fights or misconducts, and he just seems a little out of sync. A very minor problem that he's sure to correct, but he's probably looking to perform a little better.
|Mike Rupp||B||(13gp, 2g, 2a, +4, 31 PIMs) More fights this month than goals (3 to 2) for the Noted one. He's getting more shifts with Crosby or Malkin, so now is the time for him to show why he deserves the extra ice-time.|
(13gp, 5g, 4a, +6, 4 PIMs) For stretches possibly the best Penguin forward on the ice; Staal had his best goal scoring month of the young season, including a shorty against Philly on Dec 15th.
(11gp, 0g, 2a, +1, 14 PIMs) Is he going to be a 4th line winger? A guy who gets a chance on the scoring line? The lack of a role is hurting him, as did being a healthy scratch twice. His grade is helped since he's not a minus player, but Talbot needs to find a groove and get in it, and hopefully the coaching staff assists him by defining what they're looking for. His play (and the places he's been used) has shown confusion.
Based off these performances, who's your player of the month? Like October, this could be seen as a pretty wide-open month. I'm going to name the following finalists:
- Sergei Gonchar: for his production of 10 points in 12 games, and his all-around defensive work.
- Sidney Crosby: for leading the team in goals (tied) assists and points on the month.
- Bill Guerin: for tying Crosby with 6 goals.
- Evgeni Malkin: for playing at a point/game rate over the whole month, including his hat-trick performance against Ottawa
- Jordan Staal: for continuing to be the Pens best PK'ing forward and his goal/point production.
As always, if you think I should have included someone else, please comment on your case.