Justin K. Aller
Three home games this week and a 2-1-0 record to show for it. The Penguins started with a crazy loss to Philadelphia followed up by wins against Florida and Tampa to salvage the week marred by the injury loss of Evgeni Malkin.
After the crazy 6-5 loss to Philadelphia, the Penguins were able to stabilize with two wins over the Florida teams, with all three games of the week coming at home.
The cloud hanging over head, of course, is the concussion Evgeni Malkin sustained in the third period of the Panther game. He's out this week, but his status beyond that is in the unknown. That aside, let's look at the week the other players had.
Keep in mind, role and relative expecatations are judged here.
|Marc-Andre Fleury||Two more games this week and two more wins, stopping 49 of 53 shots in the process for a solid .924 save percentage, which doesn't even go to show all the breakaways that the Pens defense allowed Tampa. Fleury is definitely in the zone right now and playing some great hockey for the Pens.|
|Tomas Vokoun||Vokoun got one start and it did not, um, go well. The less said the better, but any hope that the new backup might have some magic key to help the Pens calm down and play a normal, rational game against the Flyers can be tossed out the window.|
|Robert Bortuzzo||Bort played one game this week, against Philly, recording almost no stats (just 8:59 played and only a missed shot on goal) then was back to familiar healthy scratch territory for the last two games. Barring an injury to someone else, he's going to be watching games a lot more than he's playing them this season.|
|Simon Despres||Despres got the #6 defensive spot in the week's last two games from Bortuzzo, and played two generally quiet games. Two shots on goal vs. Florida and taking a hooking penalty (where TB would score later on a 5-on-3 in that sequence) were his most memorable events of the week.|
|Deryk Engelland||Engelland continues to play very limited minutes (9:00, 11:20 and 13:05 this week), which makes one wonder all the more if Mark Eaton (who's practicing with the team without a contract) might be a more trusted option on the 3rd pairing to play more and help ease the burden of the top guys.|
|Kris Letang||Four assists this week to Letang, to go along with his standard of 26+ minutes per game played. He ranks among the league leaders in points and TOI for defensemen and if he stays healthy might get a Norris push. If he can stay consistent and focus on making good mental decisions, it'll be well-deserved.|
|Paul Martin||Paul Martin led the team in scoring this week with five points (1g, 4a). That is all.|
|Matt Niskanen||Gotta take the good (scoring goals in each of the first two games this week) with the bad (on the ice for three goals against in the Flyers game).|
|Brooks Orpik||Eventful week for Orpik, who was on the ice for 5 goals for, and 8 total goals against. Orpik's playing some tough minutes, but he has to be a little better than on the ice for 8 of the total 10 team goals surrendered.||Forwards|
|Craig Adams||Quiet week for Adams who was on the ice for 0 goals for and 2 goals against. His line did draw a matchup against Tampa's top line, for some unknown reason, but as a 4th liner, you gotta keep the puck out of your own net, at least.|
|Beau Bennett||Bennett's looking more comfortable at the NHL level with each passing shift, capping the week off with his first career goal against Tampa. And kudos to Dan Bylsma for putting him in a position to succeed on a 5-on-3 powerplay. Still, an NHL coach isn't a charity, and BB converted. Hopefully the first of many.|
|Zach Boychuk||Three more games and three more healthy scratches for Boychuk this week. This waiver claim is going "Code Bourque" really quickly.|
|Matt Cooke||A 1 goal, 3 assist week for Matt Cooke, who picked up at least a point in every game this week. His pass to Jeffrey in the FLA game was sublime, and a great week all-around for Cooke who was one the ice for 5 Pens goals for and 0 even strength goals against.|
|Sidney Crosby||Sid did end the week with good stats (2g, 2a) and was the driving force in the Tampa game for the win, but his impact was lessened in the Philly and Florida games. It's a high hurdle for Crosby to get an up arrow here, and without Malkin the Pens are going to need him to continue to be the best player on the ice every night.|
|Pascal Dupuis||Dupuis was held scoreless this week, and with the Geno injury reshuffling lines, off of Crosby's line. Also was on the ice for three goals against in the Flyer game and only one (non empty net) goal for all week.|
|Tanner Glass||No goals for and two goals against, including having a hand in the messy crease scramble goal. Ugly week for Glass.|
|Dustin Jeffrey||Finally free, Jeffrey scored a nice goal going to the net to seal the Florida game and then got 13:00 in the Tampa game (all even-strength), good for 7th most among forwards. He's getting the chance to play, now he just needs to keep playing well.|
|Tyler Kennedy||Kennedy's third period goal against Philly started Pittsburgh's come back, and he picked up a cheap assist in the Florida game. It's not a ton, but it's more production than most weeks. No better time than now, for his own sake, to start making himself a useful player.|
|Chris Kunitz||A disallowed goal in Philly from right in front of the net, a goal scored against Florida from right in front of the net and a near-goal against Tampa from battling in front of the net. Noticing a trend? Kunitz is getting to the net, and pucks are going in the net (by hook or by crook).|
|Evgeni Malkin||Get well soon, MVP.|
|James Neal||1 goal and 3 assists for Neal, but it seemed like a fairly quiet week for the stud winger. It's early to say, but without Malkin Neal only got 1 shot on goal in the Tampa game. It's an adjustment to play with new, skilled players, but Neal needs to make sure he is getting pucks to the net.|
|Brandon Sutter||A goal (to tie the game late against Philly) was a big deal, throw on an assist and the fact that Sutter was on the ice for 5 goals for a 0 total goals against (despite 4:04 in total PK time on the week) and you've got a monster week.|
|Joe Vitale||Used lightly against Philly and then a healthy scratch against Florida, Vitale made his mark on the Tampa game winning 8 out of 9 faceoffs and getting in a spirited fight with Adam Hall (even if he did it when the Pens were leading 3-0).|