WBS Midseason Report Card: Goalies & Defensemen

Steve Wagner has had to step up offensively to fill the void left by Andrew Hutchinson since mid December. Now that Hutch is coming back soon, the Pens defense should be even more deep.

Everyone knows the old saying defense wins championships right? Well then it's no surprise that the WBS Penguins have allowed the least goals in the league with 94 given up in their 41 games.  A lot of that has to do with the play of the two goaltenders, but the defense has stepped up too.

 

A look at the report card of the goalies and defensemen after the jump.

Brad Thiessen

  • This season: 18-4 (3-0 in shootouts) with a 2.12 GAA, a .918 SV% and 3 SO
  • At this point last season: 1-5  with roughly a 3.33 GAA, a .893 SV% and 0 SO

The Good:

A lot of good news for Brad Thiessen. First he has already surpassed his win total (14) from last season. He's also been named the starting goaltender for the East in the AHL All Star Game.  All this in only his second year in the AHL.

The Not So Good:

Other than Sunday's bad game (six saves on ten shots in one period of action), Thiessen has been consistent and given the team a chance to win every night. He has given up four or more goals five times this season in his 23 appearances and been pulled from action twice this season. But all in all a great first half for Thiessen.

Grade: A+

 

John Curry

  • This season: 14-5 (1-0 in shootouts) with a 2.31 GAA, a .913 SV% and 1 SO
  • At this point last season: 16-13-1  with roughly a 2.54 GAA, a .903 SV% and 1 SO

The Good:

Curry's numbers have improved a little bit from last season, and with both goaltenders playing well they pretty much have split time this season with 19 games of record for Curry and 22 for Thiessen.

The Not So Good:

John Curry was the clear number one guy last season as he played in 30 games up to this point last season. While his play is still on the rise, Thiessen has seemingly been the number one guy for the Pens this season. While neither have been the clear number one goalie this season, Curry will need to play his best to ensure he keeps playing regularly. Curry is a UFA at the end of this season and with Thiessen stepping up big this season, the Pens might be able to look into moving him if they don't think he'll resign.

Grade: A-

 

Steve Wagner

  • This season: 4 goals, 14 assists, +10 and 25 PIM in 41 games played
  • At this point last season: 3 goals, 10 assists, -10 and 20 PIM in 41 games played

The Good:

Wagner has already matched his goal total from all of last season while coming over to the Pens after playing his first 46 games of last season with the Peoria Rivermen (St. Louis Blues afilliate). He's also only four assists away from matching his total point production from 2009-10.

The Not So Good:

While Wagner is putting more pucks at the net and increasing his offensive production, he hasn't been nearly as effective at the point position on the power play.  The power play has struggled, including an abysmal 1 for 9 performance Sunday, since power play quarterback Andrew Hutchinson went down with an injury back on December 17th.  Although his +/- is a lot better this season, I would like to see him work on getting a little more responsible in his own zone.

Grade: B+

 

Corey Potter

  • This season: 1 goal, 17 assists, +13 and 36 PIM in 38 games played
  • At this point last season: 2 goals, 7 assists, +2 and 42 PIM in 38 games played

The Good:

Potter is tied with Wagner for the team scoring lead by defensemen with 18 points. Last season with Hartford, Potter got off to a slow start but finished the season strong. This year he has continued his offensive production and adds more a defensive touch to his pairing with Wagner much of this season.

The Not So Good:

Potter has been a part of the struggles on the power play as well. Offensive production shouldn't be a problem when Hutchinson comes back so I think Potter will need to transform into a shutdown defenseman during the second half of the season and I'm fine with his offensive production dropping off a little bit in order to do that.

Grade: B+

 

Robert Bortuzzo

  • This season: 2 goals, 13 assists, +16 and 75 PIM in 40 games played
  • At this point last season: 1 goal, 6 assists, -2 and 62 PIM in 40 games played

The Good:

Bortuzzo has easily been the most improved defensmen on the team.  He has already beat his totals from last season in scoring and has been a wall on defense, along with his partner Brian Strait.  A lot of potential in this guy. He's a big physical defender who's not afraid to drop the gloves to stick up for his teammates and has improved his offensive abilities too. I know a lot of defenders in Pittsburgh are locked up long term but if Bortuzzo finishes this season strong and has a good showing in the AHL playoffs, he could come into camp next season fighting for a spot with the NHL Pens.

The Not So Good:

Bortuzzo has taken more penalties than he should, some retaliatory and other unnecessary penalties (see elbowing major that caused a suspension).  If he can control the penalties he's taking and limit the foolish ones, lookout! 

Grade: A

 

Brian Strait

  • This season: 1 goal, 5 assists, +11 and 33 PIM in 38 games played
  • At this point last season: 1 goal, 7 assists, +9 and 28 PIM in 38 games played

The Good:

Brian Strait continues to improve his play in his second season of professional hockey.  While he might not show up on the score sheet with much regularity, Strait has been one of the team's best penalty killing defensemen along with Bortuzzo.

The Not So Good:

His offensive production is down a little bit and his offensive zone time will probably decrease in the near future with Hutchinson on his way to returning to action. Other than that, Strait is a force on the blue line and he and Bortuzzo could be the shutdown pairing in the playoffs.

Grade: A-

 

Joey Mormina

  • This season: 0 goals, 5 assists, +10 and 21 PIM in 28 games played
  • At this point last season: 1 goal, 4 assists, -7 and 28 PIM in 28 games played

The Good:

Mormina started the season on a professional tryout and has earned his way onto the team full-time.  He has played well defensively, using his big 6'6 frame to block shots, poke check and bang bodies.

The Not So Good:

With Hutchinson returning, he will be put back into the 6th or 7th defensemen role and could see his playing time cut.  While offense has never been a selling point for Mormina, at least he's matched his offensive production from his days with the Adirondack Phantoms last season.

Grade: B

 

Carl Sneep

  • This season: 1 goal, 7 assists, +11 and 30 PIM in 38 games played
  • Last season with Boston College: 11 goals, 17 assists in 42 games played - Led BC defensemen in scoring

The Good:

Sneep is adjusting well into the AHL and has been the Pens 6th/7th d-man most of the season. He hasn't been getting much time on the penalty kill but he has played some on the power play.

The Not So Good:

Hard to knock on a rookie as it's too early to tell yet but he hasn't been able to much on the power play, which was his bread and butter in college.  He's still getting used to professional hockey and hasn't hindered the success of the team, so I think it will just take some time for Sneep to fully adjust to pro hockey.

Grade: B-

 

Andrew Hutchinson & Jason Desantis - Incomplete

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