Shoring up the first defensive pairing is this guy's game. - USA TODAY Sports
The bubbles are moving...
(See here for more information. The position of the bubble is determined by the coaching staff; the size and color of the bubble are entirely up to the player.)
Let's take a look at the chart after this weekend's losses to the Devils.
Time for some analysis.
- We're getting more separation with more games played. This is to be expected.
- Paul Martin's bubble is still negative, but it's gotten a lot smaller. I suspect that he might have simply been victimized in one bad game, and it's finally getting its "correction" now. Brooks Orpik is now pretty clearly the weak link in that pairing.
- Craig Adams hasn't fared well in the last few games.
- Give Tyler Kennedy credit for one thing: he might not be scoring goals, but at least he's not giving the other team much to work with, either. In fact, he's the only one on that third line who's on the right end of things at the moment.
- The team really needs Matt Niskanen and Kris Letang back.
- Sitting Simon Despres down when all the D-men are healthy would be a travesty. However, Deryk Engelland and Robert Bortuzzo both have to pass through waivers to go down. I figure that Reese will be the odd man out because...well...he hasn't been holding up his end of the bargain and he doesn't have to pass through waivers, having gone through once already fairly recently, but we kind of expected that, didn't we? As for who's the seventh guy, though, I don't envy Shero and Bylsma that decision. Neither Engelland nor Bortuzzo has really done much to differentiate himself from the other. Bortuzzo's contract is two-way, so it's not out of the question that the team would send him down and shuttle him back and forth as needed, but that's an exceedingly risky move when you've already lost one defenseman to waivers this season and when you just traded another one away for a draft pick. Tread carefully, men.
- It looks odd, but by virtue of not playing, Eric Tangradi's bubble moved closer to the pack. It's time to give him another look, in my opinion. Zach Boychuk hasn't done much to convince the chart that he belongs on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal.