Pens Ups and Downs

Vincent Pugliese

A look at which players are trending up, which are treading water and which players had rough weeks for the 2-2-0 Penguins who started out on fire before hitting a wall with two straight losses against New Jersey.

Four games that ended up two wins against the Islanders (4-2) and Capitals (5-2) before two losses, both 3-1, to the Devils. Makes for an even week, and an even look at the individual performance of the players.

Keep in mind, role and relative expecatations are judged here.

Goalies Performance Comments
Marc-Andre Fleury http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png In the first three games of the week, Fleury stopped 80 of 87 shots for a .920 save percentage and only yielded seven goals for a week GAA of 2.33. We'll take those stats any day of the week.
Tomas Vokoun http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Vokoun got one start this week, last night's game against the Devils. Difficult to pin a lot of blame on him, the team in front of him didn't play very well. Like most of the games against the Devils, it's a "meh" and let's just move on.
Defensemen
Robert Bortuzzo http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Bort's playing more in recent games, 14-16 minutes, and starting to look comfortable at the NHL level. He's a good skater and his scrap with Jersey's Ryan Carter shows he isn't afraid of the tough stuff.
Simon Despres http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Despres was only one the ice for two goals against all week, and his minutes are also going up to the 16-18 range per game. His goal against the Islanders showcased his skating ability and some offensive instincts to quickly release a shot.
Deryk Engelland http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png His week was much like the team; good early, bad late. What stands out is an ill-advised pinch cost the Pens the first goal against in the NJ game, but for the entire week, Engo was pretty good early, so he'll notch a dash here.
Kris Letang http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Letang is on the shelf with a yet undisclosed injury. He played in the first game of the week, and didn't seem to take any huge bumps, but hasn't been back on the ice since. The Penguins breakout badly misses him.
Paul Martin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Martin was on the ice for 7 total goals against this week (4 at even-strength, 3 on the penalty kill). The team only gave up 10 goals. That's not very "shutdowny" for the shutdown player. It's true that Martin is getting leaned on even more with no Letang, but the Pens need him to find a way to do more while he's out there to keep the puck out of his net.
Matt Niskanen http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Niskanen is back to skating before practices, a welcome sign for a suddenly thin blueline.
Brooks Orpik http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png See Martin, except Orpik was on ice for 6 of 10 goals against that the team surrendered. The image of the week may be Orpik letting Devils rookie Stefan Matteau free for a goal against, or Orpik arriving a second too late to put David Clarkson on his keister once the puck was already in the net.
Dylan Reese http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Reese averaged 15:15 in three games, his first taste of NHL action with the Pens. Beyond that, he's been pretty plain and vanilla, not a lot of flash but not a lot of glaring mistakes. When it comes to an injury call-up, that's all you ask.
Forwards
Craig Adams http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png On the ice for two power play goals against, and was out of position against the Caps when they fired a cross-ice pass through the zone to a waiting Alex Ovechkin. Probably the #1 thing you'd want to avoid in that situation. Aside from that, 2 shots on goal, a few hits and a blocked shot isn't much to speak of.
Zach Boychuk http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Four more games largely played with Malkin and Neal at even strength and Boychuk has 0 goals and 0 assists to show for it. He's not total deadweight out there, but the timing, spacing and decision making isn't working out at this point. Boychuk better show something soon if he wants to keep his spot on the lineup.
Matt Cooke http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png A goal (off the faceoff), an assist made a good week offensively for Cooke. More importantly he was credited with 7 hits, including a thumper on Anton Volchenkov that was clean (elbow kept down) but still a hard, heavy hit. That's exactly what the Pens need out of Matt Cooke 2.0.
Sidney Crosby http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png The Devils shut Crosby down, 0 points in the two games but Crosby was able to win 70% (32 of 46) faceoffs in the two games and managed to buzz around the net. The highlight of the week was definitely Crosby batting in a puck out of mid-air to totally take the wind out of the Caps sails.
Pascal Dupuis http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Two goals on the week (one an empty netter vs the Isles) for Dupuis, who like most of the team started out well but then was frustratingly silent for the two Devils games.
Tanner Glass http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Observation- watch for Glass the next time he's on the penalty kill. He's very good at getting the puck and getting the puck out of the zone. Not the biggest thing, but something to notice, he's been reliable at clearing. It's the little things for a player who's still looking for his first point after 13 games.
Dustin Jeffrey http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png FREE DUSTIN JEFFREY.
Tyler Kennedy http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Unlike both his linemates, Kennedy did not score a goal this week. He did get a secondary assist for just his second point of the season. So far Kennedy hasn't been able to get going in the post-lockout season, the legs seem there but the hands and decision making just aren't generating anything.
Chris Kunitz http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Three assists total in the first two games of the week, nothing at all in the two Devils games, Kunitz's week was pretty much in line with the rest of the team.
Evgeni Malkin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Malkin took three penalties in the Saturday Devils game, but he also recorded five shots on goal in each of those games- he was very involved all over the ice. He also produced in the early games in the week. All things considered, a fiery week from the MVP.
James Neal http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Neal is mastering getting to open ice and then he can rely on his shot and release to get pucks to and usually in the net. So far his consistent production (3 goals, 1 assist this week) has been one of the reliable bright-spots of the season.
Brandon Sutter http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Sutter is starting to look comfortable with his new team and good things are happening when he's on the ice (2 goals, 1 assist this week).
Eric Tangradi http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Healthy scratch city, population: Tangradi.
Joe Vitale http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png A victim of a healthy scratch in the week's last game, we'll see how Vitale responds. He needs to bring constant energy and effort to stay in the lineup every night.
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