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Pensburgh Ups and Downs: November 2016

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A look at good individual performances and poor ones for the month of November.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

November 2016 saw the Penguins play 14 games and deal with all sorts of twists and turns. Well, the 14th is tomorrow night, but since there's back to back games coming up, and a lull right now, we're taking the liberty to judge November at the point of this break in the schedule.

The Pens started the month going 4-1-1 and feeling pretty good before a 7-1 shellacking of a loss in Washington on November 16th. From there things have been unsettled, they've dominated games but lost (2-1 shootout in Buffalo on 11/19) then traded a blowout loss at home versus the Rangers for a blowout win on the road versus the Rangers two days later.

In all, the team ends up 7-4-2 with the one more game in the calendar month to go. That's a 101 point pace for a full season, which isn't bad at all. Still, the team seems a bit uneven - dominant one night, totally uninterested the next. As always, they got some guys healthy this month, and also suffered some tough injuries that still linger.

There will be no rest for the weary in December, the Pens play 15 games on the month, including 11 games in a 21 day stretch from 12/8-12/28. However, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, Pittsburgh gets their by week from Jan 1-7 and will have no games or practices. All they have to do is make it there.

Past 2016-17 Ups and Downs:

As a reminder, the criteria is sort of like the stock market. We judge on performance, relative expectations and where the player is perceived now, compared to where they were at the beginning of the season. A 4th line player could get a green arrow up, a 1st line player could get a red arrow down, and that certainly does not mean the former is a better player than the latter, just that he is living more up to the expectations of his role right now.

Goalies Performance Comments
Marc-Andre Fleury http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png After arguably being the team's most consistent and best player in October, Fleury took a nosedive in November. He started 5 games (and played another after Murray's injury in DC) and his stat-line for the month is the thing of nightmares: 0-3-2, 3.82 GAA, .889 save %. Is that all his fault? Absolutely not. But is he playing well? Also, a no.
Matt Murray http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Recovered from a thumb injury and made his season debut on 11/2 @ ANA. Went 7-1-0 on the month with a 1.75 GAA and .939 save %. Murray's picked up where he left off last spring by stacking up the wins and a high save percentage.
Mike Condon http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Traded to Ottawa on Nov 2nd for a 5th round pick. A nice return for a one-month waiver claim. Condon's Pittsburgh career ends with just 20 minutes played and 7 saves on 7 shots. His short stint in the 'Burgh will be but a footnote for both player and team, but happy trails to Condon.
Defensemen
Ian Cole http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png No goals and 3 assists in 13 games, but Cole had the most favorable GF to GA split on the whole team, and a team high +/- of +8. Which, say what you will about the stat, but it shows how impressive the 3rd pair has been to be on the right end of what net the goals are going in, while carrying the highest SAT% among dmen on the month, while also leading the entire team in November in total hits and blocked shots.
Trevor Daley http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) on the month for Daley, 2nd most in all three categories for Pens defensemen (behind Letang in all, naturally). Daley's pretty much doing his job, not much more, not much less. Generating some offense, playing decent enough defense. Not popping off the page as a dynamic player, but a steady 20 minute a night player is good enough on a team full of stars.
Brian Dumoulin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png A poor October carried into an even worse November. By the end of the month Dumoulin was kicked off the top pair with Letang and then made a healthy scratch on 11/26 against NJD.
Kris Letang http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Came back from his injury on 11/2 and wasted no time scoring a goal and an assist in that game. 2g+8a on the month. Letang's 41 SOG were tied for second on the entire team and his 26 minutes played per game in November was on a team where only one other skater (Daley) was even north of 20. The OT GWG vs NYI on 11/18 was one of the nicest of the season so far. He's been a little careless at times with decisions, but overall is still contributing a ton more good than bad.
Olli Maatta http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png 0 points in 13 games isn't impressive, but Maatta's 19 minutes per game in November were 4th on the team, and he worked his way back to the top pair. It would be nice to see some offense generated, but this month almost felt like Maatta putting his feet back under him and steadying himself out.
Derrick Pouliot http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Missed the whole month of November from his 10/20 injury, but did get an AHL conditioning assignment this past weekend, playing 3 scoreless games so he should be back with the big boys sooner than later, now the question soon becomes where does he slot into the lineup (if at all) as long as the other 6 are healthy?
Justin Schultz http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png 0 goals, 3 assists on the month with 16:17 played. Schultz has been responsible in his third pair role and continues to play well in a 3rd pairing role. Probably one of the pleasant surprises of the season that his play has been pretty steady and consistent.
Forwards
Nick Bonino http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png 1 goal and 5 assists in the 13 games (tied for 5th among forwards), including a big 2 assist night in the 6-1 win on 11/23. Bonino doesn't seem quite "there" from where his spring production was, but hopefully he's getting close
Sidney Crosby
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png 11 goals in the 13 games (plus 4 assists). The whole darn team only scored 40 goals, so Sid scored 27.5% of the entire team's goals. Playing some of the best hockey of his career right now and it needs to be enjoyed.
Matt Cullen
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Just 2 goals, 1 assist this month and a forward worse -4 +/-, including just 1 goal and no assists in the last 10 games. Cullen is often very, very good but this month he's left a lot to be desired considering his usual performance.
Eric Fehr
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png One goal on the month, coming 11/5 @SJ in the rout and 2 more assists, but overall a fairly forgettable month for Fehr, including  40% SAT being worst of all regular forwards. No huge cause for concern, but still not impressive
Jake Guentzel http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png A famous debut by now on 11/21 with 2 goals in a 5-2 loss to NYR, and 4 points in 4 games overall. So far on a terrific NHL debut for a 22 year old youngster. Guentzel has made a seemingly seamless transition into the NHL and we'll see where it goes from here. Sky seems like the limit.
Carl Hagelin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Scored 1 goal in 13 games on 36 shots (2.8%). Not sure if that will improve or a measure of Hagelin's pure talent and hands. Also kicked in 5 assists. Pretty meh month overall.
Patric Hornqvist
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Ol' Horny was on his way to another solid month (2g+3a in 7 games) before suffering a concussion and missing the past few weeks, but luckily he's skating and signs are indicating he should be back sooner than later if all stays well. Good thing, the team is missing his presence.
Phil Kessel
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png A solid 12 points (3g+9a) in 13 games for Kessel, who's among the league leaders in asssts (t-5th) and points (t-8th) as of 11/27. Even better: 10 of the 12 points on the month came at even strength for a team in dire need of ES scoring.
Tom Kuhnhackl http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Became the 13th forward for almost half the month (healthy scratch in 6 of the 13 games) and although scored a highlight reel breakaway goal 11/26 vs NJD (first of the season in 16 games) just seems to be the extra guy at this point when all are healthy.
Chris Kunitz http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/538577/ow.png Much like Hornqvist, Kunitz was on his way to a great month (2g+5a in 9 games) before getting knicked with a week-to-week injury. Those 2 goals were his first 2 of the season too in 18 total games. Not likely a coincidence that the team is missing the all-around game of Kunitz, even if Guentzel has filled his role on the Malkin line with more goal-scoring.
Evgeni Malkin http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Production was good, as it almost always is (3g+8a in 13 games) but 11 minor penalties in the month is not a category where he wants to lead the team. All in all a meh month for Malkin.
Bryan Rust http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png 3 goals (only Crosby had more) on the month plus 3 more assists for Rust who's rounding into form slowly but surely, and has been trusted enough to be the extra man on the ice in the 6v5 moments against NJD on 11/26.
Tom Sestito http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png 3 games and 10 healthy scratches this month for the Pens resident big nasty, but how about that 11/2 game @ ANA where Sestito dished a nice spinning assist for Cullen? Probably his nicest play of the season right there.
Conor Sheary http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Sheary returned from eye injury on 11/5 @ SJ in time for a 2 assist game, followed by a 2 goal game 11/8 vs. EDM. However, since that game only 1g+1a in the last 9 games, despite getting a chance now to play on the Crosby line.
Scott Wilson http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Just one goal and one assist on the month, and 2 healthy scratches. We'll see how much of a leash Wilson gets in December, one would think Guentzel's emergence pushes Wilson a little further down the list of guys to get a jersey on a given night.