Past months grades and Pensburgh Player of the Month:
The Penguins went 8-4-2 in March, a fairly good record. They started out 5-1-1 before slumping down a little towards the end of the month. We said hello to two new friends in Jordan Leopold and Alexei Ponikarovsky. We said good-bye to Martin Skoula (tear, tear). Now, we grade them.
A reminder, as always grades are based off of expectations. So, a guy like Eric Godard could get a better grade than Evgeni Malkin, doesn't mean that Godard is a better player, just would have done better based on his role....
|Marc-Andre Fleury||B-||(6-4-2, 2.62 GAA, .898 save percentage, 1 shutout on the month) Not the typical numbers that March-Andre is used to putting up this time of the year, though I still don't think it's his entirely fault with all the defensive breakdowns by the team in front of him.|
|Brent Johnson||B||(2-0-1, 1.99 GAA .897 save %) Time for Johnson to slink away into the background now that the playoffs are about to begin, but he's a nice insurance policy to have around, just in case.|
(15 games played, 0 goals, 1 assists, -5, 6 penalty minutes) Promoted to play with Gonchar, but he's ending up on the ice for more goals against than goals for.
(15gp, 1g, 4a, +3, 4 PIMs) Still is hesitating a little more than you'd like to see, but remember: Goose is still in his first full NHL season. His performance should only go up from here.
|Sergei Gonchar||C||(11gp, 2g, 5a, -7, 14 PIMs) Before a nasty bout of strep throat, Sarge put up decent points but struggled with goals going in his net too. Hopefully when his illness is gone his play improves.|
|Jordan Leopold||B||(15gp, 0g, 4a, +5, 4 PIMs) The new Penguin has been as advertised: not flashy, but pretty effective as he's gotten accustomed to his new team|
(15 gp, 0g, 5a, -1, 14 PIMs) A fat contract will keep Tanger in Pittsburgh for four more seasons. His new role playing top minutes will show if he's ready for his new payscale before he even starts collecting the new check.
|Jay McKee||C||(6gp, 0g, 0a, +1, 0 PIMs) McKee's fallen out of favor with the coaching staff, even when he plays he's playing limited minutes (12:12 in March). He hasn't been bad when he's been out there, but he's not out there much for a reason.|
(15gp, 0g, 5a, +1, 10 PIMs) The checking comes standard, the scoring is the new option: Orpik set a season high for shots on goal, has set a new career high for assists and points.
(0gp, 0g, 0a, even, 0 PIMs) The "A" is for "get your Ass out of here".
(15gp, 0g, 2a, even, 20 PIMs) "Calling it now: Craig Adams scores a goal of importance during the playoffs" March 28th. Sticking by it.
(15gp, 3g, 3a, even, 38 PIMs) Uhh, nothing to see here. Amid all the shenanigans, Cooke set a career high with his 15th goal, proving he's good for more than dangerous hits when he sets his mind to it.
(15gp, 5g, 11a, even, 10 PIMs) As a follow-up for scoring one of the most important goals in Canada's hockey history, Crosby puts up his highest assist month of the season and continues to pace the Penguins in every category.
|Pascal Dupuis||A-||(15gp, 5g, 4a, +2, 4 PIMs) Season high for Dupuis in goals, assists, points and shots on goal. Yeah, I'd say it was a good month.|
(15 gp, 3g, 5a, +1, 26 PIMs) Fedotenko's a streaky point producer, but he's starting to heat up. He hasn't had a good season (to put it nicely) but he's still got time to prove his worth when it matters most.
(1gp, 0g, 0a, 0 PIMs) Remember when you were a little kid you'd get checks or minuses before you actually got a grade? Well, we'll give Godsy a check here for returning maybe a little quicker than normal from a groin injury to dress for the "Cooke revenge game" in Boston, even if that's the only game they asked him to play all month, and conceivably the last time he plays all season.
(12gp, 2g, 1a, -6, 11 PIMs) Fairly brutal month for "Dad", who didn't have a single even strength goal, despite a ton of minutes. He's just pacing himself for the next 2+ months, right?
(13gp, 2g, 1a, +2, 4 PIMs) TK doesn't get the PP time, so he won't get production. But when he does score, watch out, because probably an important one. 4 of his 11 goals this season are game-winners (as are 11 of his 36 career reg season goals).
|Chris Kunitz||B+||(15gp, 5g, 5a, even, 4 PIMs) March was Kunitz's best month since October, which is not coincidentally the last time he was 100% healthy.|
(8gp, 3g, 2a, -4, 8 PIMs) After a disappointing Olympics, Geno caught some friendly fire and banged up his foot. It's been a disappointing year, but his parents will be here for the playoffs where Malkin will look to put another Conn Smythe performance.
(13gp, 2g, 7a, -2, 2 PIMs) Fitting in to his new team has been uneven for the Ukraine Pain Train. While good, he hasn't seemed to play (or produce) up to capabilities. Maybe next month.
|Mike Rupp||B-||(15gp, 2g, 2a, even, 23 PIMs) 2 goals, 2 assists, 3 fights = a nice month for the Rupper.|
(15gp, 5g, 4a, +4, 8 PIMs) In Malkin's recent absence Staal has burst on to the scene as the Penguins second best and most consistent forward.
(12gp, 1g, 0a, -5, 6 PIMs) Spring is when the Superstar plays best. Something tells me he doesn't need a calendar to know it's time to get it in gear. You gonna doubt Mr. Clutch?
So who ya got for the
Sidney Crosby, err Pensburgh player of the month? Nominees are Crosby, Staal, Dupuis and I'll throw Fleury in just for how much he's been fighting to cover up all of the breakdowns and inconsistent play in the defensive zone. Any "write-in" votes can be argued in the comments, but we all know it's Sid award yet again.