Stud of the Week: 01/21/13Posted: 21/01/2013
No idea if this is going to be a regular event but given the excellent debut of your 2013 Pittsburgh Penguins I feel it appropriate to look at who stuck out above the rest. There are a lot of options to pick when the Pens get out of the gate with a pair of marque wins over the Flyers and Rangers. So we’ll consider a number of different names.
Malkin and Neal are both on fire. Neal is leading the race for the Cy Young Award already, he’s 3-0 so far. Geno has legitimately posted 2 points per game in both of the efforts so far. Neal has always been a fast starter, and a healthy Geno is always a positive. We could see a really huge explosion from both of them in the home opener on Wednesday.
Tyler Kennedy: the league has finally decided that he does not get credit for the Penguins first goal of the season, but nonetheless he created the interference that resulted in the first goal and then scored a legitimate one last night. Already he looks faster, more composed, and more effective than he did at any point last year. Of course, he’s in a contract year again with the Pens so he’s got something to play for again.
Brandon Sutter is a face-off (especially defensive zone face-off) monster. So far he’s taken the most faceoffs on the team and he’s won 60% of them. His face-off victories in the offensive zone on the power play have contributed to two goals so far. The Pens do seem to be utilizing him in a different way than Staal, Staal was never close to being a 50% faceoff guy, as such the Pens have often minimized his draw attempts, not so with Sutter, he’s averaged 23 shifts in less than 17 minutes of game time. Sid and Geno are both below 50% throughout the first two games, I imagine Sutter will continue to take more and more until those guys improve to their normal numbers.
Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen look studly together. It seems like so far they’re getting most of the minutes with Geno and Neal and generally speaking they’ve capitalized on it. So far both have produced one goal and one assist, not too bad. Letang, so far, is averaging more than 25:00 minutes per game. Niskanen has, so far, stepped up with more than 4 minutes more per game over last year.
Brooks Orpik is back. He’s crushing people, see below. He’s making heads up breakout passes, and he veritably shut down the top lines of Philly and New York, two of the best in the business.
Our player of the week for this week though is none other than Paul Martin. We have literally never seen him do what he’s doing now in a Penguins uniform. His 3 points, 1 G – 2 A puts him in a tie for being the top scoring defensemen in the league so far (with reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson). However what has been even better is his d-zone play. His 5 shots blocked are the most on the team and top 10 in the league so far. His 1 giveaway through 2 games really resonates with me as to how far Martin has come in the offseason, you can just tell that his game vision is on another level compared to last year. It can still all go to hell in a handbasket but Paul-Mart looks like a new player this year.