Excluding the obvious (Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz) you would have a hard time naming a better Penguin last night than Beau Bennett. All he does is hustle for loose pucks, make crisp passes, and find spots from which he can launch a puck, or at the very least force a team to abandon a double team on Geno and or Nealer, the league’s reigning MVP and perhaps its second best pure sniper. That’s awesome.
He’s got points in 4 of his last 5, and his minutes have been steadily increasing. He played over 15 and a half minutes last night, probably the ideal figure for a #6 forward, and the Pens will have 2 more full years with him on his current rookie salary figure after this one. That’s also awesome.
And perhaps even more important, the Pens almost don’t even need that much scoring, they’re miles ahead of pretty much every other team in scoring so far this year, so if you ask me, they don’t need to give up a few defensive prospects to bring in a veteran scorer on the back swing of his career (Jarome Iginla).
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.
There’s a problem emerging with the Penguins third d-pairing. So far this year Deryk Engelland and Simon Despres have provided 10:13 and 9:57 time on ice per game. As such Engo and Despres are 4th to last and 3rd to last on the team, ahead of only the much maligned Eric Tangradi and the ill-used Dustin Jeffrey. And that’s not good. The Pens’ third pair rank 195th and 196th out of 204 defensemen who have played at all so far in the NHL this year.
By comparison last year’s third pair of Engelland/Niskanen averaged 16:08 and 17:56 respectively. In limited NHL action even Despres typically played 14:13, four and a quarter more minutes per game than he’s gotten so far this year. What follows is an examination of why the Pens third pairing have received so few minutes (and they aren’t all bad reasons) and whether or not the Pens can/should/could rely on the third pairing. Read the rest of this entry »
t’s finally here, we are actually previewing the actual guys who will be donning the Pittsburgh Penguins sweater this year. Yesterday we previewed the goalies, today we move onto defense, and yet to come are wingers, and then the centers, before finally making our BOLD predictions for the year. We’ve attempted to look at each player from a point/counterpoint perspective–that’s not to say that we are going to totally disagree on each player, far from it, we want to examine both the statistical expectations for each guy AND express our “feel” or read of the player. We hope you enjoy and we would love for you to get back to us with your thoughts and feelings. If you haven’t read them yet, please check out our series on Advanced Hockey Statistics: Goals Versus Threshold, Points per 60 Minutes, and Player Usage Charts (including Corsi numbers). Get the business after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »