The Format Explained
The purpose of this new column is to track who is trending up and who is trending down for the Penguins over the course of the past week. Since it will be published each Thursday the games reviewed will be the previous Thursday night through the Wednesday night before publication. So for this week we will be looking at the November 6th game vs the Winnipeg Jets, the November 8th game vs the Buffalo Sabres, and the November 11th game vs the New York Rangers. Please note I am going to be using these games as the context for this list, so please keep that in mind in the comments section.
This might be the most controversial choice to many, but when looking at the week as a whole it was not as clear cut as one might believe at first glance. Sure Sid had 5 assists against the hapless Sabres, but against the Rangers he actually logged his worst game of the season (-2 +/-,.400 FO%,1 SOG, 2 PIM). Furthermore his faceoff percentage on the week in focus was .420, which is down from his .488 season average. Also contributing to my assessment was his disappearance in the Rangers game. Simply put the best player on your team cannot disappear on the biggest stage, a rematch against the team who knocked you out of the playoffs in one of America's greatest venues, Madison Square Garden.
For as controversial as the last pick was, this one should be a consensus pick for downward trending. Since signing his contract a week ago on the heels of a string of shutouts the Flower has come out and posted below average numbers. In the past week he has posted a .903% save percentage. Furthermore, he was terrible in Madison Square Garden Tuesday night. On the bright side he did record two wins and a .938% save percentage against Winnipeg and Buffalo.
Simply put last Thursday night in Winnipeg was not the type of showing you want fromm your problem child enforcer/contributor. On the night he had 22 PIM and was given the rest of the night off for his antics. Downie does have to walk a fine line, being able to be aggressive and protect our stars in games where the officials are losing control themselves is tough, but he has to do better than the gong show we saw out of him last Thursday night.
The easiest pick this week is Brandon Sutter. Posting a three point game (1g,2a) against Winnipeg certainly helped, but it was his performance in the other two games that cemented this choice. For the week he posted a .543 FO% and in the New York Rangers game he won 8 of 12 for a .667 FO%, all above his .530 season average. In addition to his work in the faceoff circle he also registered eight shots on goal, and a +/- of +1.
Anyone who has read my most recent articles will understand my unabashed admiration for the potential of Simon Despres. However, this pick is not a fanboy pick, Simon had a good week. Posting one goal and one assist coupled with his eight blocked shots and five hits made this an easy pick.
Ah, sweet redemption for our German backup goalie! In Hooks' brilliant month in review column he was heavily questioned for his rating of Thomas Greiss as trending down. But the facts were that in his only start he did not post good numbers. Well fair reader the time has come for us to see the flip side of that coin. Although his previous start was outside the games being used as a focal point, I still thought including Greiss to be a good thing. He posted a .971 save percentage against the Minnesota Wild and earned his first win as a Pittsburgh Penguin. That is worth an up arrow in my book.
What are your thoughts? I am sure some of you vehemently disagree with me based on the Fenwick and Corsi stats, which leads me to this question for you loyal readers; where can I access weekly advanced stats that are not only reliable but also free? Any suggestions will be greeted with a quick rec from me.