Stud of the Week 02/13/13

Really up and down week for the Pens last week. Started with two marquee victories over the Islanders and Capitals, shutdown D and prolific offense, over the weekend though the Pens ran into the buzzsaw that is the New Jersey Hockey Devils. As such it’s hard to feel really strongly one way or the other about how the Pens played this week. Our Stud of the Week for this week will reflect this roller coaster of emotion.

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. Two weeks ago Sid earned the award for keeping the team from turning on itself despite some ugly losses to some traditionally bad teams. As one of the best players in the league last week we had no choice but to give the award to Chris Kunitz.

This week we’re going in a different direction check it out after the break.

So Happy

So Happy

Robert Bortuzzo: In 100% seriousness Bortuzzo has the possibility to become a Brooks Orpik-type player, except he’s even bigger, by a lot. So far we’ve seen him lay some crushing hits, and although he has looked like a rookie in some situations he seems to be a long way ahead of Brooksie in his development in this, his first year in the NHL. Also, just when you thought we would never be able to talk about Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada again you find out Bortuzzo is the second favorite son of that wondrous town.

His first scrap was pretty decent, he’s shown far more offensive talent than anybody expected, and he looks capable of playing with this team for years to come.

A Pittsburgh Native

A Pittsburgh Native

Dylan Reese, a Pittsburgh Native: He got the chance to “realize the dream” of every Western Pennsylvania hockey player, wear a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey. And perhaps most importantly he didn’t embarrass himself. No doubt, as soon as Niskanen or Letang is fit to play again Reese, a Pittsburgh Native, will be returned to WB/S, but he’s actually added solidity to the defense in the absence of the Pens’ best (Letang) and most consistent (Niskanen).

The Stud of the Week for the second week of February though is not a player at all.

shero - mad?

It can only be Ray Shero: Okay, sure he hasn’t caught lightning in a bottle with the Zach Boychuk acquisition, although Boychuk has been the best alternative of the many candidates the Pens have tried with Geno and Neal. But just look at the fruits of his labor: we’ve already talked about Bortuzzo, Simon Despres is no longer tradeable, Joe Vitale might be one of the finest 4th line centers in hockey, Paul Martin is a new man (also if you haven’t read this article, it’s one of the best I’ve read in a long time).

And then there are the trades: Chris Kunitz for Ryan Whitney (who recently was a healthy scratch for the Oilers), Pascal Dupuis (and Marian Hossa) for Erik Christensen (who is out of the NHL) and Colby Armstrong (who got bought out by the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs last year), James Neal and Matt Niskanen for Alex Goligoski (who recently was a healthy scratch for the Dallas Stars), heck even the Brandon Sutter for Jordan Staal trade is already looking like a win. When it comes to being a stud in the hockey business very few can touch King Shero. Just wait til he brings in Ryan O’Reilly or RJ Umberger in an straight up trade for Iceberg.

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