Sergei Gonchar, resident #1 defenseman on the Pittsburgh Penguins for the five years he's been here, has missed the last three games due to an illness. He's expected to be back soon - probably by Wednesday - but his absence has given the Penguins a sneak peak of what life without Gonch would be like.
Sans Sarge, a lot is going to fall to young defensemen Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski. And that hasn't disappointed yet. Let's look at some particulars over these past three games. It's a very small sample size, but some trends are beginning to emerge.
In the last three games...
- 2-0-1 --the team's record
- 15.4% --power play rate (2 for 13)
- 25:12 -- average ice-time per game for Letang (season average is 21:30)
- 23:34 -- average ice-time per game for Goligoski (season average is 21:27)
- 16 -- Letang's shots on goal (5.33 a game)...2.44 is his season average per game
- 6 -- Goligoski's SOG (2 per game)...1.38 is his season average per game
- +1 -- combined plus/minus of the two players in this stretch
- 0 -- points the two players have combined for
So Goligoski and Letang are getting a lot more playing time, and combined they're throwing a lot more rubber to the net than they have been this season. But they haven't produced any points, and Gonchar's scored an average of .798 points/game during his stint as a Pittsburgh Penguin. The young players are going to have to get on the scoreboard, but for now they're doing quite well at filling the gaps and keeping the momentum going.