Interesting Note: The Pens scored 1.93 goals/60 minutes (at 5-on-5) when Adams was on the ice and allowed 2.53 goals against. The only forwards (min 20 games) with a worst differential were Dustin Jeffrey and Eric Tangradi.
The Good: Ranked second among Penguin forwards in hits (162) during the regular season, and first (45) in blocked shots. Though point production is almost an afterthought of Adams’ role and skill set, his assists and points have increased slightly each season he’s been with the Pens (up to 18 points this season). Adams greatly reduced his number of penalty minutes this season, from 76 last year to 34 this year. He again proved to be durable enough to play all 82 games. He had the lowest GA/60 for regular penalty killing forwards.
The Bad: Continues to struggle winning faceoffs, and his responsibilities there continue to decrease (562 faceoffs taken in 2009-10, 465 in ’10-11 to just 292 this season). So at this point, it’s pretty clear that Adams is more of a winger than a center, showing a decline in versatility for a guy who trades himself as a pretty useful role player.
Moment to Remember: December 3, 2011 at Carolina, Craig Adams opened the scoring mid-way through the second period when he found some open room while Sidney Crosby controlled the puck in the middle of the ice. Crosby dished a nice pass to Adams, who quickly fired a one-timer that snuck by Brian Boucher. The Canes would tie it 1-1, but then in the third Paul Martin made a long stretch pass to Adams, who gained the red line and then made a great cross-ice pass to Arron Asham. Asham’s shot eluded Boucher and ended up being the game winner. Adams was named the No. 1 star of the game against one of his former teams.
Moment to Forget: March 27, 2012 vs NY Islanders, Adams would only skate 8:24 and for his efforts show: 1 hit, 1-0 in faceoffs, 0 shots attempted and a -2 (and was on the ice for a power play goal against as well). On the opening goal Adams could not control Islanders defenseman Dylan Reese, who got a clean, unobstructed shot on goal that Frans Nielson collected the rebound on. The other two goals Adams was on the ice for were hardly his fault at all- Kyle Okposo collected a puck and snapped a beautiful shot on the rush by Marc-Andre Fleury, then Okposo whipped a nice cross-crease pass to David Ullstrum for the PP marker. Unfortunately the lax defensive effort and systematic breakdowns for Pittsburgh would only continue into the playoffs.
Discussion: Adams, now 35, has a contract for next year and he’s a coach’s favorite probably because Dan Bylsma sees a lot of himself as a player in Adams. But with young forwards like Jeffrey and Tangradi vying for more regular roles in the lineup, are Adams’ days as an every game player numbered? Or does he still bring enough hitting, PK’ing to fill to the 4th line role in your eyes?