Stud of the Week 05/14/13

We didn’t do Stud of the Week last week because nobody deserved it. This week there are several options so we won’t waste your time.

Evgeni Malkin: he ends the first round of play with 11 points, just under 2 PPG. And he hasn’t been very good. He looks injured, or tired, or something. But with the pressure on in Game 6 he took charge. He turned a 1-on-4 into a game-tying goal. Then he did it again in OT, in the process of making Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik into legends, let’s sit back and watch…

Tyler Kennedy: last Tuesday Mike and I were standing in my kitchen and we convinced ourselves that TK couldn’t do anything to help this team, that he was good at providing energy but the Pens needed defensive help or more offense, something outside of TK’s skill set. We were wrong. His goal in Game 5 changed the world. It’s been way too long since we’ve seen anything like it. He created a forecheck almost all by himself once he cracked the lineup and he really looks smart and composed. Hard to imagine any circumstance by which he comes out of the lineup. Oh and don’t forget he actually has the primary assist on Orpik’s game winner.

There can only be one Stud though and this should settle any debate as to who it is…

Tomas Vokoun: there is no question that this series looks a lot different without Vokoun’s arrival in Game 5. Whether his presence forced the team to realize what it had done, or whether the team subconsciously enters a more defensive posture with the less athletic Vokoun in net, it literally doesn’t matter. What matters is that Vokoun saved the Pens’ bacon.

He’s a calming presence, there’s no let down with Vokoun. He knows his responsibility and he does it. And before you attack Vokoun playing well because of his team in front of him, he still had to face 69 shots in two games. And he just made the saves. We always turn back to Jaro Halak in 2010, and the similarities to Vokoun. Halak ended up leading the Canadiens to the Conference Finals that year, but in that offseason the Canadiens decided, in no uncertain terms, that Carey Price was going to be their franchise goalie. The same thing can happen here.

Right now the Penguins are playing for the right to have their names immortalized on a big silver chalice. You have to play the guys who are the most hungry for that. That’s why Joe Vitale and Tyler Kennedy are in the lineup, they want it. That’s why Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla chose to come to Pittsburgh, they want it. I can’t fathom what else Tomas Vokoun would have to do to prove himself the hungriest of the two options? Everyone always complained that the Pens were misusing Simon Despres in the regular season, and Coach Dan always countered that  by saying he hadn’t earned his place in the lineup. What has MAF done to earn a spot in the lineup tonight? Something that happened 4 years ago? And that’s why Tomas Vokoun is the Stud of the Week.

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