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Pens Ups and Downs

A look at which players are trending up, which are treading water and which players had rough weeks for the 3-0 Penguins who defeated the Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

A 3-0-0 week for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who beat Ottawa 4-2 on Wednesday at home before going on the road and taking games from Winnipeg (3-1) and Buffalo 4-3 on Sunday to close out the week. Personnel changes were made with Eric Tangradi being dealt to the Jets, and 2010 first round pick Beau Bennett getting his first tase of NHL action.

Injury wise it was a friendly week, with Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen coming off of Injured Reserved and no major injuries from game action.

Keep in mind, role and relative expecatations are judged here.

Goalies Performance Comments
Marc-Andre Fleury Fleury got the call in all three games and had an excellent week again, stopping 82 of 89 shots for a .921 save percentage and picked up three wins. It could be argued that Fleury has been the Pens strongest player in most of his games, which is a good sign.
Tomas Vokoun Playing in no games this week, Vokoun will have to use practice to keep himself sharp. In fact, he's only started one game since February 4th. The Pens still probably plan to use Vokoun in about 20 games of the 48 game season, but given how good Fleury has performed, the top goalie is going to get the nod on most nights when he's in the zone. So for now, Vokoun waits.
Robert Bortuzzo A victim of numbers (now that there are eight healthy defensemen) Bort was back to healthy scratch territory for the first two games of the week, before Dan Bylsma instered Bortuzzo for "toughness", but he recorded no hits or blocked shots in just 8:49 of ice-time. Will Bort get a spot in the lineup next game against Philly?
Simon Despres Despres got 10 minutes and change for ice-time in each of the first two games, before coming out of the lineup in Sunday in favor or Bortuzzo. Seems to be fairly entrenched as the 6th defenseman, but if he takes a bad penalty or has a giveaway, the coach has shown he's benching him, even if the team is winning.
Deryk Engelland Only on the ice for one goal against, which is an improvement from week's past. Also chipped in an assist, had a fight against Chris Thorburn and 4 hits on the week. Playing some limited minutes (10-13) a night, but as long as the rubber stays out of his net, it's a decent week for a bottom pairing defensemen.
Kris Letang Fresh off injury Letang played 27:33, 27:54, 26:27 in the three games, picking up two assists- his pass to Dupuis for the game-tying goal in Buffalo yesterday will make the team's year end highlight reels.
Paul Martin Martin was on the ice for 6 Penguin goals for, and only 2 goals against. Given the number of minutes he eats, that would be enough for an up arrow on most weeks. Throw in the game winning goal that Martin hammered by Ryan Miller and that cements it.
Matt Niskanen Niskanen also got thrown back into the fire in his return from injury, playing 21-23 minutes a night for the Pens. Despite that he was only on the ice for 2 total goals (one for and against). Good for a dash for the reigning mustahce boy.
Brooks Orpik Orpik was on the ice for all three of Buffalo's goal, but his point-shot was also re-directed for a goal. Other than that, a fairly quiet week for Orpik, who can fade into the background again.
Craig Adams 2 goals in the Winnipeg game for CFA, who chipped in with some offensive production. Big time stuff for Adams, and nice to see his hard work pay off in addition to the normal stats you'd expect from him (5 hits, 2 blocked shots and a fight sticking up for a teammate who got checked from behind).
Beau Bennett In his first two games of NHL action, Bennett's dipped his toes in by starting on the 3rd line, instead of getting thrown in the deep end playing with Crosby/Malkin and seeing the toughest of competition. Bennett hasn't stood out good or bad (2 shots on goal, 3 missed shots, 2 blocked shots, 1 giveaway) but once he gets his feet under him, he could get more chances to shine. It's a learning process and Bennett seems like a quick learner on the ice.
Zach Boychuk Boychuk only got one game in before going to be a healthy scratch. If he's going to make it in the NHL as a Penguin, it's going to be an uphill battle from here.
Matt Cooke Cooke played well enough to earn a spot on the second line in the first game of the week, but since he's gotten there it hasn't been any production (-3 and 2 shots in the past two games). Has Cooke moved past the Erik Karlsson injury? Can he get back to playing what was his best hockey of the season?
Sidney Crosby Two goals and five assists to bring Crosby up to one point back of first in the league. Sid is in full gear right now, he's creating offensive chances on almost every shift. The scary thing is- there's still room for improvement in some of the decisions he's making in terms of shoot/pass or some of the passes being off target.
Pascal Dupuis Three goals and one assist this week for Dupuis, who like his centerman is flying and fully in a groove. After the lockout it took Dupuis a while to get his timing and everything back, but there's no doubt that now he's back to the form that saw him set career highs in 2011-12.
Tanner Glass A fight, 9 hits, 2 blocked shots, a couple odd faceoff wins, and no points. Typical Tanner Glass week; a lot of muckin' and grindin' but that's it.
Tyler Kennedy With Tangradi and Lovejoy off the roster, the spotlight now turns to Kennedy for player's who need to pick up their games. TK recorded 8 shots and 9 hits on the week, pretty decent numbers for a guy in a third line energy role, but again he ends with 0 goals and 0 assists. Confidence wise he's gotta be down, but he's a professional and needs to find a way to right his own ship, lest he find himself out of the lineup or in another town soon.
Chris Kunitz Kunitz tallied an assist in each of the three games, had eight shots on goals and seven hits on the week. Big-time, impactful stuff for a top line winger. And best of all, Kunitz was on the ice for 7 Pens goals on the week, and just 1 goal against.
Evgeni Malkin Tough week for Malkin, no 0 goals and just 1 assist in the three games, and was only 35% on faceoffs (11 wins, 31 losses). Players have ebbs and flows in a season, and this week has been difficult for Malkin. Of course, given the inconsistency on his left wing, it could be easy to see how that's a challenge. Luckily the Pens haven't needed Malkin at his best right now, but there's no doubt his performances will have to (and will) improve later in the season.
James Neal 3 goals and 1 assist on the week for Neal, including a three point night against Ottawa that powered Pittsburgh to a win. Neal's tied for the lead in goals in the league and with Malkin and Crosby feeding him with his shot, it's easy to see why.
Brandon Sutter No points on the week for Sutter- and more disturbing he was held without a shot in two of the three games- but he did finish 50% for the week in faceoffs (19 for 38) and wasn't on the ice for a single goal against. If you can't score, at least play it even, and that's pretty much how Sutter's week went.
Eric Tangradi Scratched and then traded for Winnipeg. And so it goes.
Joe Vitale Another solid week for Vitale. His great run in the faceoff circle continues, winning 18 out of 26 draws on the week (69.2%). Also chipped in an assist, blocked 4 shots, had a takeaway and 2 hits. It's the little things that will keep Vitale in the lineup, and he definitely came through this week.