Stud of the Week 04/09/13Posted: 09/04/2013
Been a long time since we addressed the Penguins’ Stud of the Week. But in a week where a ton of different things happened, and when the Pens have four days off in a row, it only seem right to come back to it.
But first, some news. Surprisingly good read from Rob Rossi about the efforts the Penguins have taken to create a winning environment from top to bottom in Pittsburgh. Still surreal that Jarome Iginla is a Pittsburgh Penguin, and that he seems dead set on staying that way til the end of his career.
The Penguins became the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a playoff berth when the Sabres beat the Devils in a shootout Saturday night. Also, doing a little math it looks like the Penguins are magic number of 2 away from winning the Atlantic Division and guaranteeing a top three seeding in the playoffs (the Rangers can reach a maximum point output of 60 [9 games left X 2 points each = 18 points, currently have 42]). Assuming the Pens are able to win the division, they are only a magic number of 2 away from clinching a top 2 seed overall in the East, the now division-leading Washington Capitals have a maximum output of 60 points (9 games to play, 18 point maximum output).
It looks like Kris Letang will be back in the lineup very soon. He participated in full team practice today and will join the team for their forthcoming road trip. The news is not so good for James Neal who has been diagnosed with a concussion. This doesn’t really come as a surprise, but he won’t travel with the team. Beau Bennett has been recalled and chances are good that he’ll get to play alongside Geno and Iggy, not too bad for a rookie. Get the Stud after the break.
And now onto the big stuff: Stud of the Week!
Douglas Murray: so far he has looked like the most consistent of all the Penguins deadline acquisitions. He’s been exactly as advertised, an absolute behemoth in front of the crease, willing to take the body, and an incredibly poor skater. Perhaps what’s surprised us is his shot, it seems to be surprisingly accurate, he may hold the current streak for most games without a goal but if he should get the opportunity to play with Kris Letang, while protecting Sidney Crosby, he could be a sleeper performer.
Jussi Jokinen: yes he scored the only two goals the Pens earned in his debut against the Rangers on Thursday, but truly the thing that impressed us most is his faceoff ability. He went 13 of 15 on faceoffs (87% incidently) and every win was clean, not just a tie up and Kuni or Duper cleaning up the rubbish.
Robert Bortuzzo: don’t look now but Bortz is really making a case for himself, after being the only 23 man roster player not to play in a single game in March, Bortz has gotten into the last two and he’s been a difference maker. If you want to know if the Pens have a good minor league team, look at Bortz. He’s emerged as a physical reckoning and he’s so much safer in the d-zone than Simon Despres. If Bortz isn’t an every day player with the Pens next year, he’ll surely catch on in a similar role with another franchise.
This week though the stud of the week goes to the #UndefEATON warrior himself, Mark Eaton.
Mark Eaton: the win streak ended with Eaton in the lineup, but only after the fact did we learn that he was playing with the flu. Not exactly him playing at the top of his game. In the game against Buffalo the Pens allowed 29 shots on goal. Even more telling though is that the Pens stopped all 9 shorthanded shots against. The following day, playing the Rangers the Pens allowed 39 shots on goal, a 25% increase, and only managed to stop one of four shots down a man. If you want to know how crucial Eaton has been, I’ll just leave this here…