With a nod to Japers Rink, we look at the weekly performance on each Monday of how the individual players have done, relative to their role and expectations, in the past week. This first week will go back to the start of the season and include all five games.
|A rough game in Toronto surrounded by two excellent wins in Philly and Ottawa is enough for a thumbs up this week for Fleury, who’s off to an early start on having a higher save percentage than his ballyhooed backup.
|Vokoun played well against NYR and was pretty average against Winnipeg, giving up three goals in both of his first two games as a Penguin.
|Bort is clearly 8th on the depth chart on an 8 man defense. Tough spot to be in and he’s been a healthy scratch each of the first five games.
|As a #6 defenseman playing about 10 minutes a night, Despres still found it in him to take a penalty in each of the first two games of the season and then in a horrific play on Toronto’s first goal where he misplayed a pass from Tangradi (that never should have been sent) followed by Despres fumbling in his own zone and allowing Nazim Kadri time and space to operate, leading to Toronto’s first goal. Ever since that point, 2 games of healthy scratch and possibly the end of this stint in the NHL for the youngster.
|Sporting a nasty shiner from a fight against Colton Orr, Engelland’s played about how you want and expect him to, averaging 11:52 in five games. Engo’s only been credited with 6 hits and 5 blocked shots, he could definitely stand to pick up the physical game a little, but with the whole side of his face a big, colorful bruise, it’s easy to understand why he’s not exactly seeking the dirty stuff now.
|Lovejoy got in the two games that Despres has sat and has about given the same level of play, minus taking penalties. 13:32 average playing time, 3 shots on goal to go with 2 blocked shots a 0 hits. Not much of anything to speak about this week, which for Lovejoy might be a positive in and of itself.
|Letang leads the Pens in ice-time (26:48 a game) and has stayed out of the box and has four points (1g, 3a) in the five games. The heavy workload will continue for as long as Letang can handle it, and for now he’s playing well- and more importantly under control in all situations. Just one minor penalty in five games, which definitely is a positive.
|Surprisingly, Paul Martin has been the Penguins best defenseman through five games. Defensively he’s maintained excellent focus, gap control and has used his stick to block/deflect pucks away from opponents. Offensively Martin’s made better and smarter passes and in the zone is hesitating less and trying to put the puck on the net or make authoritative passes more. Eating up 25:10 of ice-time so far, Martin is playing some tough minutes and coming out looking confident and making the right, small defensive plays so far.
|Niskanen will be re-evaluated today in Pittsburgh following a nasty spill into the boards that give him a “lower body” injury (leg?) and knocked him out of the Ottawa game. It’s a shame too, Niskanen has been among the Pens steadier and more reliable defensemen so far in the young season and the team was starting to rely on him. Hopefully the injury turns out not to be too painful or long-lasting.
|Orpik is playing well with Martin and playing effective physically- his 11 hits and 17 blocked shots are tops among Penguin blueliners. With Martin and Letang, the Pens are giving Orpik about all the ice-time he can handle, and for now he’s meeting the challenge of keeping the puck out of his net. td>
|Steady as she goes for the old vet- Adams has the hits (15) and blocked shots (5) that you’d expect….And the number of goals and points (0) that you would too.
|Cooke does have 13 hits, but he’s been more of the “not-an-instigator” Matt Cooke 2.0 that doesn’t get in anyone’s face after a whistle or give/receive facewashes on the reg. Maybe this worked last year when Cooke had a career high in goals but through five games this year he’s staring at 0 goals and 0 assists and some frustration after not converting a clean short-handed breakaway against the Sens.
|5 points (3g, 2a) for Mr. Sid, but when he’s been effective at even strength it seems to be of his own design, his wingers aren’t up to speed totally yet. Some of Crosby’s passes have also uncharacteristically been a little off the mark and his faceoff win % is a bit lower (52.6%) than past- a reminder of how little game time he’s actually gotten lately as he continues to work back into shape. But hey, five games into the year and nary one mention or indication of any lingering head issues, so that’s a plus.
|Dupuis has one goal (he stood in front of the net on a powerplay and Evgeni Malkin fed him a beauty), one assist and just seven shots on goal. That’s not going to cut it to be a top line winger. Dupuis was off all lockout and the vet has shown a little bit of rust as the season suddenly kicked into high gear. Hopefully he can play his way out of it and back into form, because the Pens are definitely counting on 2011-12 Dupuis level production.
|Through five games Glass hasn’t hit the scoreboard but he’s been a flurry of energy over the ice, which is what the Penguins want from him. With a big opening on the Malkin/Neal line, this presents an opportunity for someone to grab and Glass has gotten a few shifts at it, without too much success.
|FREE DUSTIN JEFFREY.
|Kennedy started the year well, production wise, but has cooled as the season went on. He’s also received a few auditions for the Malkin/Neal line and has done absolutely nothing to make it seem like he belongs there either. Kennedy’s best on the 3rd line- checking, grinding, cycling and throwing some junk on net and hoping for the best.
|Kunitz has 1 goal, and luckily for him the goalie wasn’t in the net, so it was an easy one. He’s another vet that didn’t play during the lockout and didn’t skate much in Pittsburgh with his teammates and it has shown. I’m not saying he’s been rusty handling the puck and making sound decisions, but if the Tin Man from the beginning of the Wizard of Oz needed a stand-in….
|It looks like he’s re-adjusting to the smaller ice surfaces with some of his passes and giveaways, but Malkin has been great. He’s on the puck constantly and making some great passes to Neal for the Pens only consistent offensive source. Could Malkin do some little things better and maybe look to shoot the puck more? Sure. But it’s almost important to look at the big picture of his production and see that right now he’s been one of the main engines fueling the team.
|24 shots in 5 games. 4 have hit the net. Neal is shooting like crazy and good things are happening. He’s on a roll and his play with Malkin is just on a different level.
|A gentleman’s dash for Sutter this week who hasn’t been able to get much going offensively, but has played decently with his all-around game. And at his current mark of winning 52% of faceoffs Sutter is better than the last guy who held the 3rd center job.
|Didn’t last on the Malkin line, now is on the 4th line and is not scoring or really doing much of note there either. Tangradi just hasn’t seemed to figure out or be able to have an answer for how to handle the speed of the NHL game or be able to find a useful niche. He’s not a power forward or a defensive specialist, and he isn’t very good with the puck. Gonna be hard to make a mark on an NHL roster with that skill-set.
|Vitale’s becoming a Craig Adams Jr.: energy and hitting from the 4th line with no real threat of danger in the offensive zone.