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Tracking the Pens, Week 2

A look at each player's week and which individual players are trending up with their play, and which are trending down with poor play.

Justin K. Aller

When we left the Pens power rankings, the team was 3-2 and looking for some consistency. They had the rough New York Islanders game, where frankly the team didn't look nearly as hungry or energetic as the fast young NYI team. From there, it was a lot of negativity amongst the fans, but the team banded together and rattled off three straight wins against the Rangers (3-0), Devils (5-1) and Capitals (6-3). So convincing wins.

Goalies Performance Comments
Marc-Andre Fleury Fleury got hung out to dry by the Islanders, but his mis-play on the game's first goal set the tone for the whole team in a negative way. The Flower got the hook after the second intermission and then minded the fort for a quiet (but effective) 15 save on 16 shot night against NJD. Rare week where the team's top goalie only saw 33 shots come at him.
Tomas Vokoun Vokoun got his first career shutout on Thursday against the Rangers, and then got a revenge win against an ex-team in Washington on Sunday (despite the embarassing fluke goal that tied the game at 2). Still, all in all 2-0-0 week for Vokes, who's brought a veteran calm to the net.
Robert Bortuzzo Bortuzzo played the last three games of the week and as the 6th defenseman he only got an average of 12:02 per game. Then in the Devils game Bort got his first career NHL goal, followed by picking up an assist against Washington. He ended the week as a +5 and that's a good way to stay in the lineup.
Simon Despres Despres got back in the lineup due to the Niskanen injury and he's made the most of it. Scoring a breakaway goal on the Rangers after stepping out of the penalty box was the highlight, but take note of Despres' phyiscal game. 11 hits in 4 games this week (compared to 3 hits in his first 3 games).
Deryk Engelland Four fairly quiet games for Engelland this week, which is a good thing for a bottom pairing defenseman. Engelland's game has been reliable in his own end and his efforts to get shots to the net resulted in a key tip-goal in Washington. And hey, his face isn't bruised to oblivion anymore, so that's a plus for him.
Ben Lovejoy Healthy scratch city for Lovejoy, who played in the Islanders game and then lost his jersey to Bortuzzo. Lovejoy played 13:45 against the Islanders and was on the ice for one goal, when Michael Grabner split the defense and was off to the races. Hard to get back in the lineup with three straight wins, but with injuries Lovejoy will have to stay fresh, as he's currently the next man up.
Kris Letang Goals in two straight games for Letang, who recorded four shots on goal in each game. Plus, as we found out, the Jersey game illustrated Bylsma's defensive system to a T, as Letang helped tilt the ice in the Penguins direction. Letang's been great in both ends of the ice, with an array of partners.
Paul Martin A steady as she goes type week for Martin- his only offense was in the Washington game, a point shot that was deflected for the game's opening score. At even strength Martin helped hold Ilya Kovalchuk, Rick Nash/Marian Gaborik and Alex Ovechkin off the board, but on power plays they need to tighten things up in front of the net, where sticks of star forwards are getting free too often.
Matt Niskanen Niskanen is on the shelf for another 1-3 weeks with a lower-body injury. He's not yet skating, but when the team returns home later this week perhaps he will get back to the ice before too long.
Brooks Orpik You can practically insert Martin's right up here. Orpik didn't provide much offense but did a great job of neutralizing the other team's big guns at even strength all week. But his PK work could stand to be a notch higher in order to receive praise for a measure like this.
Craig Adams No goals but an assist, even plus/minus rating and four shots on goal for Adams this week. A nice effort week and he's doing the job you'd want as a 4th line veteran winger.
Zach Boychuk In his first week as a Penguin, Boychuk got the chance on the Malkin/Neal line and so far he hasn't generated any points. But his speed, skill and mind for creating chances is obvious, it's just a race to see if he can claw out an NHL niche before the team tires of him. So far, it's still a walk in progress with no clear answer.
Matt Cooke Cooke got his first and only points of the week against Washington (a deflection goal and secondary assist) but was largely quiet in the three other games, so he'll just get the dash here. Seems like Cooke is slowly kicking back into gear following the long layoff of the lockout. We'd still like to see him bring a little more sandpaper night in and night out.
Sidney Crosby Crosby picked up points in all four games this week (1g, 7a) and had three point games in each of the big offensive explosions. Which no surprise that Sid is helping to fuel the Pens offensive production. Still just 0 goals, 2 assists for the week on the power play, for Crosby to get to the top of the scoring race, he's going to have to help the PP pick it up.
Pascal Dupuis Great stat-line for the week for Duper: 1 goal 3 assists, +3, 6 hits, 4 blocked shots. We criticised Dupuis for looking rusty early in the season but he did well to look back to his old, productive form this past week.
Tanner Glass No points for the week (or season) but Glass pitched in with 11 credited hits, 3 blocked shots and some solid 4th line/PK work. Nothing amazing, but nothing that makes you think he won't get in the lineup the next night. One nice thing: Glass hasn't taken a minor penalty all season.
Dustin Jeffrey Tough luck for Jeffrey, he played the Islander game and actually looked good with Malkin and Neal. Then the news of Zach Boychuk's waiver claim broke and Jeffrey found himself back in healthy scratch territory. It's a shame that he's always the odd man out when it seems like he could have something to offer if he only got the chance to play.
Tyler Kennedy No goals or assists for Kennedy, who's ice-time is starting to drop (down to a season low 9:51 last game). Kennedy doesn't kill penalties, he gets minimal PP time and isn't producing at even strength. Minus his old linemate Jordan Staal, Kennedy hasn't been able to get to his game yet.
Chris Kunitz Monster five goal, six assist week for Kunitz, including three points and four points in his last two nights out. We were big critics here of how Kunitz looked early in the year, but there remains no doubts now whether or not he is pulling his weight, because right now he's basically pulling the whole team along with his scoring.
Evgeni Malkin On one hand, Malkin ends up for the week with 1 goal and 5 assists, which is good, but also has a total of just two shots in the past two games. Malkin needs to get the puck on the net more.
James Neal One goal and one assist this week for Neal, both of which came on the power play. And just six shots on goal in four games, which for Neal qualifies as a slump. Neal's not far from breaking out, and it says something the team can score 11 goals in the weekend with Neal only getting a secondary assist on a 5 on 3 man advantage with 10 seconds left in the game.
Brandon Sutter A better offensive week for Sutter, who scored his first goal as a Penguin and tacked on an assist too. He's starting to find his groove and look more comfortable with his new team.
Eric Tangradi Four games, four scratches this week. Tangradi's buried as the 14th forward right now and his current NHL career seems to be firmly stuck in limbo. But, hey, he's getting an NHL paycheck to show up and practice, so that's good for him, right?
Joe Vitale No points in four games for Vitale, who ended up a -1 for the week with 3 hits, 1 blocked shot. Vitale's up to 62.8% on faceoffs for the season, and his strong work in the circle should cement his spot in the roster, even if he's producing 1 shot on goal in the 4 games.