Stud of the Week 02/04/13Posted: 05/02/2013
My how the tables have turned. Last week the Penguins’ world was ending, Bylsma was already fired, Fleury wasn’t even worth a bag of pucks on the trade market, and Geno was being incredibly “Russian,” this week they’re one point behind Boston for the overall conference lead. And you may not want to believe it, but it’s not too early to talk about rankings, the Pens’ next game will mark 20% of this year’s regular season, deal with it.
We created this award to recognize the best player for the Penguins in the past week. This doesn’t have to be the leading scorer or anything like that, this is the guy who contributes the most to victory–it could go to a guy who was dominant in the faceoff circle, who drew a bunch of penalties that resulted in goals, or laid some game changing hits. We all know who is putting the puck in the net, but hockey, perhaps more than any other sport, is a team affair and we want to recognize the unsung heroes that make the Penguins so great to watch and root for. After the first weekend of the season we gave the inaugural award to Paul Martin for blowing us away with his unreal play-making, skating, and defensive zone presence. Last week Sid earned the award for keeping the team from turning on itself despite some ugly losses to some traditionally bad teams.
This week the opportunities are limitless so come with us as we look through the contestants.
Tanner Glass: We’ve reckoned him to a MUCH more skilled Arron Asham. Most everyone else has boldly predicted that he would become a fan favorite. In one week he’s jumped from middle of the pack to the team leader with 26 hits. He’s jumped into the thick of it at the league level, he’s in a tie for the 9th most hits in the league. Glass and his linemates have just done work, controlling play, out hitting and out hustling whoever they play against, whether it’s the other team’s 4th line or their first.
Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin: we’ve mentioned them every week so far and we can’t say much more, so here are some tweets from Jesse Marshall from Faceoff Factor:
We haven’t talked about Goals Against/60 but it works the exact same way as Points/60, it puts all players on the same level and gives you an accurate metric of how productive they are without ice time as a factor. You always hope that when you do the math your best players will still be the most productive, even though they tend to already get the most ice time and the most points, but this isn’t always the case. See our study of Tyler Kennedy for proof of that concept.
No doubt about it, Brooks and Paul-Mart have been playing a lot, and in all of that time they aren’t letting anything in. If a good ESP/60 for a top-6 forward is 2.0 they aren’t even allowing half of that. That’s what you need from a shutdown pairing.
Sid and Geno: They’ve both posted at least 2 points in each of the last three games, they’ve both been good in the faceoff circle, and all of a sudden they look dominant again. You knew it was only a matter of time, check out the scoring race going into competition today:
Tomas Vokoun: scored the shutout against the Rangers and played some really really good puck against the Capitals on Sunday. The city broke out into a frenzy between people seriously advocating Vokoun to be the “#1 goalie” and the other half advocating for the opposite. Shero didn’t bring Vokoun to town, on a $2 million per year deal, to sit on the bench. He always has been a good goalie and I think people are finally beginning to see that now that he’s playing on one of the most complete teams in the league.
Simon Despres: Since coming back into the lineup to play with Kris Letang he all of a sudden looks like a top-4 defender in the league. His stock is soaring especially after his heroics in the Rangers game: primary assist and a highlight reel deke.
BUT THE WINNER THIS WEEK IS REALLY OBVIOUS…
Chris Kunitz: The NHL’s second star of the week posted 8 points in two games. He became the first Penguin since Buries It to score 4 goals in a game, his 24 hits are game changing, and he’s literally never played better in a Penguins uniform. Following the Islanders fiasco we said the leaders needed to step up. We were surprised to see Kunitz wearing the “A” for the home games, but no doubting his leadership after his explosion over the weekend. This is Kunitz’s world, at least for the next week.
P.S. We’re still looking for the person who can create our Stud of the Week award. Get at us if you’ve got what it takes.