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Pensburgh wrapup: Brooks Orpik


 "Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory." - Bill Russell

Season stats: 73 gp, 2g, 23a, 25p, +6, 64 PIMs

Playoff stats:  13 gp, 0g, 2a, 2p, +3, 12 PIMs

Month-by-month Pensburgh grades:

October: B+

November: B+

December: B+

January: B+

February: B+

March: B

Playoff: C+

Contract status: Signed through 2013-14 season ($3,750,000 cap hit)...Unrestricted free agent summer 2014

Interesting stat:  Orpik's set new personal highs in assists each of the past three seasons (10 to 17 to 23 in 2009-10).

The Good:  Orpik brought the physicality this season, which isn't anything new of course.  Despite missing nine games and facing some inflated scorekeepers around the league, Orpik still finished 6th in the league in hits.

As mentioned in the stats, Orpik's provided a little more offense too, tying or setting career highs for himself in goals (2), assists (23), points (25), shots on goal (61).  Offense is not what he's in the lineup for, but he's pitching in a little bit there.

Playing through pain and injuries was a big deal too.  Orpik considered having the surgery he's about to have now in the summer of 2009, but that would have cost him the chance to play at Team USA's summer camp, which likely would have prevented him from being considered for the Olympics.  So he sucked it up, played all season and now will have the hernia surgery.  Impressive, especially considering the style of defense with hitting and blocked shots that he gives.

And then there's the matter of leadership.  Orpik, unfailingly honest, has given some good sound bites in the media.  "I'm getting tired of hearing we worked hard or maybe deserved better" is one of his better quotes.  He's pointed to by his teammates as a guy who says what needs to be said in the lockeroom, and a team can never get enough of that.

The Not-so-good:  Call it subjective, but Orpik was unable to play in the "shutdown" role that Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi so memorably played in the 2009 Cup run.  Orpik was a -20 in games the Penguins would lose, and though he played against tough competition, he saw a lot of rubber go in his net.  To that end, Orpik had a negative Corsi rating (meaning the opposition attempted more shots on the ice while he was out there, compared to what the Pens did), but comparable to the rest of his defensive mates it doesn't stand out, especially considering the competition and minutes he drew.

Penalty wise Orpik's reduced his trips to the box, but he still took 33 minor penalties this season including 6 holding and 7 interferences (but only 3 Hooks).  In a perfect world maybe he could cut down further on the obstruction type penalties, but getting in the way of offensive players is his game and taking those penalties occasionally is something of an occupational habit.

Final verdict:  2009-10 was a gutty performance for Orpik.  He played, generally tough minutes and acquitted himself well.  In a year where defensive injuries cut into the Pittsburgh blueline, Orpik only missed 9 games.  The Pens could use more steady defensive players and Orpik's shown he can be reliable in that regard.

Question and Discussion:  Especially should Sergei Gonchar depart, who should Orpik be partnered with next season?  Do you like the Kris Letang matchup or should the Pens perhaps pair him with Alex Goligoski or even a free agent signing that may be more defensive to attempt to recapture that Gill/Scuderi shutdown magic?