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Pensburgh Ups and Downs: February 2017

A look at the individual performances for Penguins players in the month of February

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It might not have felt like it with all the injuries, but the Pittsburgh Penguins enjoyed a successful month results wise in February 2017, going 7-2-3 in the year's shortest month. The highlight of it all was probably the successful Stadium Series game on 2/25, downing the rival Flyers 2/25 under the bright lights of an NBC primetime game from Heinz Field.

Add in 2 overtime games with Columbus (a win on 2/3, then a loss two weeks later on 2/17) and seven games against the Western Conference (sporting a points friendly 4-1-2 record) and even though it tended to be a painful month for some on the roster, it was still a generally solid one.

By our count 8 regulars (Daley, Maatta, Schultz, Letang, Malkin, Hagelin, Rust and Sheary) all suffered injuries or missed time at some point during the month. Not the greatest to lose so many key players, but like the Macho Man Randy Savage told us, "the beat goes on, yeeaaah".

(Also for the purposes of below, ignore the 3/1 loss to Chicago the other night. Shouldn't be hard to do, right?)

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 Started (and played in) just 3 of the 12 games of the month, and not against marquee opponents (STL, ARI, WPG). Carried a 2-0-1 record with a .916 save % and 2.55 GAA that are both well better than his season averages, which is good. With a busy March filled with 16 games the team will need to turn to Fleury more.
Matt Murray Murray was stellar in February going 5-2-2 in his 9 starts, having a .938 save %, a 1.98 GAA that included a shutout 2/14 against Vancouver. Murray's excellent play is being overshadowed by a couple of other rookies around the league, but it's been just as good.
Ian Cole Due to the injuries, Cole played 20:40 per game in February, still carried a positive GF% and added a little bit of offense (1g+2a), while being one of only 2 defensemen able to answer the bell for every game. Another solid month in what's been a pretty good season.
Trevor Daley Daley's (regular) season ended on 2/21 vs CAR, injuring a knee and undergoing surgery the next day. He was said to be out approx. 6 weeks and now is on LTIR. Now the question becomes- for a guy having a disappointing season and now dealing with mid-season knee surgery, where's his place in the playoff lineup on a team that's added Hainsey and Mark Streit?
Brian Dumoulin Dumoulin (back from broken jaw in late Jan) joins Cole as the only defenseman to suit up in all 12 February games. His offense still isn't much (0g+3a) but he's chewing up 22 minutes a night and playing a key role on a depleted unit and not drowning either.
Ron Hainsey Welcome to the team, Ron Hainsey. The veteran was acquired and played his first game as a Penguin on 2/25 outside (fun story) and played in 20+ minutes in both games on the month, looking pretty sturdy. Hopefully that TOI comes down when health returns but for now he's an NHL body on a defense that badly needs it.
Kris Letang Letang missed the last 2 games of the month with an undisclosed upper body injury. In many ways story of Letang's career is this month: when he plays, he's great (1g+10a in 10 games this month)...But he misses time too often with injuries
Olli Maatta Had hand surgery after breaking it on 2/16 and was said to be out for 6 weeks, so that puts his window to return right around the end of the regular season. Much like Daley, it hasn't been a great season for Maatta and now he's going to have to jump back in with everyone else at post-season speed.
Chad Ruhwedel Played 5 games in Feb, a healthy scratch for the rest. Scored an important goal in the Stadium Series, floating a point-shot past a clueless goalie. No other points on the month. Soon should be relegated to the bench with the trade additions made, one would think.
Justin Schultz Concussed on 2/16 vs WPG but fortunately was back in action on 2/25. Worst boxcars of the month (1g+3a in 9 games) but is now more important than ever logging a ton of minutes and counted on to be a key member of the defense, and isn't having a tough go.
Nick Bonino Just 3 points in February (2g+1a) and 1g+1a came on the power play, meaning only 1 even strength point in 12 games this month, despite playing 16 minutes per game. Also sub 50% (48.2% to be exact) in the faceoff circle. Someone wake up playoff Bonino.
Sidney Crosby Crosby leads the team in goals (t-6), points (11) and shots (41). Sullivan's also ramping up his icetime, Sid played 21:11 per game in February. His ES time/game went from 15:27 in Jan to 17:30 in Feb. Too much too soon? Let's hope not.
Matt Cullen Not sure you can call a guy a 4th line center when he plays 14:33 per game (as Cullen did in Feb), but it goes to show how valuable he can be center or wing and to move around the lineup. Good production (2g+4a in 12 games) for the veteran too
Eric Fehr Injuries enabled Fehr to play in 11 of the 12 games in February. But he only had no goals (on just 7 shots) and 1 assist in that time, really setting the stage for his departure in a 3/1 trade. We'll always have the important goal to seal Game 4 of the Cup Finals and give the Pens a 3-1 series lead.
Jake Guentzel A star-making month for Guentzel, appearing in all 12 games, being very productive (3g+5a) and playing close to 17 minutes a night, Guentzel is now a staple of the team and finds himself on the Crosby line currently.
Carl Hagelin Hagelin missed 5 games after a concussion on 2/4. All missing: the offense. Hagelin scored no goals in Feb (and has just 1 in his last 20). As Grover pointed out, Hagelin is on pace for 8 goals, his career low is 14. Not good.
Patric Hornqvist Mixed bag of a month for Hornqvist, was second on the team in shots (36) but only scored 3 goals (plus 3 more assists). Only one PP point on the month, but the team found success when he was on ice at even strength with a team best +7.
Phil Kessel Another good month for Phil, his 6 goals tied Crosby for team lead and his 9 points were 3rd best behind Crosby and Letang. Need a guy like Kessel to produce points and he's been doing that pretty reliably of late, even if common linemates haven't been helping a ton.
Tom Kuhnhackl In Jan Kuhnhackl was a healthy scratch way more than he played (3 vs 8). In February he got to play 10 games, scoring 3 points (1g+2a) and seems to be back in favor as a 4th liner. Good month for him.
Chris Kunitz Pretty fair month for Kunitz, scoring 6 points (3g+3a) in the 12 games and getting more time on the top line with the injuries.
Evgeni Malkin Malkin returned from injury on 2/14 and picked up right back where he started. He scored 8 points (4g+4a) in the last 7 games of the month, including points in 6 of the 7 games. He's been a tremendous point machine when healthy.
Carter Rowney Got to play 8 games, didn't do much with it (0g+1a) but was good winning 61.7% of the 60 faceoffs he took. Rowney could be up in the 12th/13th/14th depth forward role for the rest of the season. He doesn't look too out of place in the NHL, but he's hardly a difference making player.
Bryan Rust The month ended for Rust on 2/9 when he took a nasty spill into the goalie, injuring a hand/wrist/arm. There isn't much concrete known about his return, but it would seem low odds that he's back in the near future.
Conor Sheary Missed the entire month of February but the good news is his return to the lineup looks imminent in early March
Scott Wilson Interesting month for Wilson, playing in all 12 games but not making a ton out of it (1g+3a) despite some chances with Malkin. Still a rookie, WIlson's looking for that scoring touch but isn't a bad all around player by any means.