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A Look Around The Penguins Camp - Eyeing Up The D

Is it just me, or is Brooks Orpik playing out of his head lately?  The guy is a wrecking machine on the ice.  Now only is he crushing everything in his path, but he's also playing the game with a clear head.  No screw-ups, no instances where he's playing the puck; just solid all-around D from yet another guy who is up for discussion in the offseason.  He keeps playing like this and the Pens are going to have a tough time working out the bills.

Kris Letang was a scratch for the game on Monday against the Rangers.  No word if this was the result of a potential "light" injury from the previous night or if he was feeling under the weather.  Statistically and visually speaking, his performance has been nothing short of stellar.  Therefore that had to have been a valid reason for his scratch, as Therrien wouldn't have done it otherwise.

With Rob Scuderi back on D the Penguins have really been solid around the net.  Scuderi takes his share of blocked shots and really holds his own against the boards.  Fleury's inability to control most rebounds often comes down on the D to get rid of the puck.  It's guys like Scuderi who get it done.

Then you have the Tower - Hal Gill.  Talk about a big acquisition during the trade deadline.  This guy has played amazing hockey around the net and against the boards.  Granted, he's not exactly what you'd call an 'offensive-defenseman', but the Pens really don't need a guy like that in the back-ice.  Gill brings his size to the crease around Fleury and has also been a great addition to the PK unit.  He may not be the fastest of skates but that's because he doesn't have to be - you're going to have trouble getting around the guy regardless.

Sergei Gonchar has been a little quiet as of late.  More recently, the only time he's been given any light in the past two games wasn't exactly in the best of ways (the hold against Jagr in Monday's OT loss).  However he's no doubt going to be a valuable asset on the blueline when the playoffs roll around.  As long as the power play can get rolling again, Gonchar is going to have every opportunity to turn his game around.

Coming off his fight against Jackman in the Islanders match last week, Daryl Sydor is showing that he has the fired-up playoff attitude already in the works.  Similar to Gill, he's not your typical high-scoring defenseman.  Yet he's done a fantastic job on the back-check and plays really tight D in the Penguins zone.  Worthy of the "A"?  I'd say so.

Finally we have the hot and cold Ryan Whitney.  Whitney contributed a point in three straight games in the middle of March, only to post a pointless effort in the last three.  What can you say?  The guy is back and forth.  In either case, he's never been your overly aggressive sort of defenseman.  However his man-on-man coverage looks to have gotten a boost over the past month and hopefully he'll pose as a sleeper in the playoffs.