Ranking the Penguins Olympians

Bruce Bennett

Now that the games are over, we take a look at how the members of the Pittsburgh Penguins fared. Some won gold, some won bronze and some left Sochi with nothing but disappointment and frustration.

What's a tournament recap without a list? The Pittsburgh Penguins sent seven players and two coaches to Sochi for the Olympics to four different countries. Two groups won medals, two did not.

Who's better and worse off now than before the games began? Let's rank 'em and see.

#8 Paul Martin

It's not his fault to end up last, but Martin found himself hurt in the quarterfinal versus the Czech Republic and ended up with his hand in a cast, missing the two final games. For a player so excited to be in Sochi after missing the 2010 games, it was a tough outcome for his Olympic experience. And now Martin will have to be re-evaluated in Pittsburgh to see how much of the NHL season that he'll miss. No Penguin came out of the games in worse shape than Martin. It's a shame because his play was solid, but the experience ended up being rotten and very unfortunate, and deserving of a better conclusion.

#7 Dan Bylsma

Bylsma led his team to a seemingly unstoppable group stage, followed by a very frustrating unraveling downfall when the games really counted. Sound familiar? Whether or not it's justified, and to some degree it certainly is, Bylsma's every decision from personnel to lines to usage to penalty shots has been dissected and he's taking fire on all sides. His guys didn't execute and couldn't score and Bylsma again had no answers to right a sinking ship. Hopefully it's something he can compartmentalize and put behind him as his NHL club streaks on towards the playoffs.

#6 Brooks Orpik

Publicly roasted more than he should have been on the lone goal in the semifinals versus Canada (watch Ryan Callahan on that shift), Orpik had a decent all-around tournament, relative to reasonable expectations. Orpik was counted on to kill penalties and eat some minutes and for the most part managed to do that job. Orpik wasn't great on the big ice and was a weak link at times (like the Pavel Datsyuk goal) but he also lent some experience to a very young defensive corps. He's not the sole reason that USA failed, but wasn't the type of player to reverse the team's fortunes, either.

#5 Evgeni Malkin

Expected to be an offensive engine to help power the host nation, Evgeni Malkin came up short, just like the rest of his comrades. Geno scored a goal and two assists in the first game against Slovenia and then didn't produce any points at all for the next 4 games. As Russia weakly bowed out in the QF, frustration reigned supreme for Malkin with his coaches and usage. Probably important to note that Malkin wasn't on the ice for any goals against, but he also was only out there for two even-strength goals for in the entire tournament, and that just wasn't enough for a team that needed one of their top scorers to tangibly contribute.

#4 Jussi Jokinen, bronze medalist

Only three players in the whole tournament had more even strength points than Jussi Jokinen (2 goals, 2 assists in six games). His goal against the USA in the bronze medal game to extend Finland's lead to 2-0, just seconds after the opening score, really broke the spirits and will of the Americans. For his efforts he earned a bronze medal, and deservedly so. Finland was a team of role players without any stars, and Jokinen's skillset fit in perfectly with that cohesive group.

#3 Chris Kunitz, gold medalist

Kunitz_nose_medium

A lightning rod for criticism for his inclusion on a stacked Team Canada, Kunitz earned the last laugh with a solid gold medal game. After being plastered from behind into the boards and getting a bloody nose, Kunitz capped the scoring for the entire tournament, tacking a goal past Henrik Lundqvist to salt the game away. That gold medal will look nice on his shelf and adds to a solid career of achievements with two Stanley Cups and a 1st team all-NHL honor.

#2 Olli Maatta, bronze medalist

Pensburgh author James Conley predicted Maatta's coming out party and he hit the nail on the head. Maatta scored 5 points in six games (3g, 2a), good for a tie for 10th in the entire tourney. Maatta played on the second pair of a bronze medal winning team at age 19. The kid keeps continuing to amaze.

#1 Sidney Crosby, gold medalist

Crosby joined Mario Lemieux and Scott Niedermayer as recent captains to lead Canada to an Olympic gold. Not bad company to be in, to be sure. Production wise, Crosby wasn't his normal self, but this tournament also didn't lend itself to many high scoring games. Scoring just one goal (on a breakaway in the gold medal game, naturally) and adding just two assists in six games won't impress, but consider the roles that Canada played. Sid averaged just 16:27 a game in the Olympics (well off his NHL season average of 22:01) and he didn't play all power play every power play. But what he did do was win a ton of faceoffs, control the puck and possession (to the tune of not being on the ice for a goal against) and play a key role in Canada's gold medal run. Sochi adds yet another chapter in the growing legendary career of Crosby.

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