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03-08-2013, 06:08 PM
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Location: Pittsburgh
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Pittsburgh Penguins after 24 games (2013)

This is my first post, so feel free to critique me in any way. If you think I said anything wrong, please tell me. But for now I want to talk about the Penguins, at the mid season point this year.

Pros, so far…
The positives are pretty obvious; Sidney Crosby has become the player people expected him to be whenever he returns from his time away from hockey. Chris Kunitz has shown this in his production level. He has always been one of my personal favorites & he has shown Crosby what he learned while Crosby has been gone, by playing with Malkin. By taking a page out of James Neal’s play book scoring from everywhere.
Crosby 39 points leading the League. Neal – 16 goals, Kunitz 15 goals. Outstanding.
-(Also, MAF has played well this year as well, the playoffs will tell a lot however.)
-Paul Martin has played at a higher level than I think I expected him to be at when we first signed him and that is great considering the first two years. He was Ok when he got here however everyone knows about last year and I gain respect for him for not wanting out.
-Simon Despres is becoming an outstanding Defensive men in the NHL, the Pens have a 2:1 win ratio with him in the lineup and a below .500 record without him. Now I do not think it is all him, but this stat can only help his confidence after being a healthy scratch a few times this year. Finally, Robert Burtozzo has also been a pleasant surprise as well considering he is making it hard for Disco Dan to make him the scratch every night.
Everyone in Pittsburgh knows the big elephant, I mean pig, and in the room is obvious Tyler Kennedy. Only having 3 goals so far after 24 games doesn’t even make me that upset either. Considering that stat it would be about 12 or 13 goals in an 82 schedule and that’s what I expect from him. But before that 3rd goal in Philly, he has taken bad penalties, forced dumb turnovers, and has clogged areas on the ice slowing down his own teams offensive possessions making it difficult to play their game. I feel the only reason he is still in the lineup is due to the fact Dan loves TK.
-Next the Tanner Glass experiment has been a failure, no points, no real grit, nothing really helping the team. He has had some entertaining fights and performances but nothing to really help contribute. Finally a personal favorite, Engo. Oh how I have enjoyed his team here, but it’s become pretty apparent he has either already lost a step or his head isn’t in the game. He hasn’t fought as much, he hasn’t hit as much, he’s on the ice for almost every goal with his face looking like he is a deer in the headlights, he doesn’t win battles in the corners, need I go on.
-To conclude the last person I would like to discuss is Brooks Orpik, now some has said his play has diminished and I would agree, but I do not think it is all on him. He is getting old but he knows what time of the year it is and I believe he will turn it on in the Playoffs. He is 2nd in the league is block shots and plays a lot of minutes a night. However he is HEALTHY and in shape so my trust factor is still there for him when push comes to shove.

Next, I will talk about a couple things: What I think the Lines should be, what decisions management has made so far this year, and what I think is in store for the future.

What I think the lines should be:
Adams -Vitale-Kennedy
Letang – Orpik
Martin – Eaton
Niskanen – Burtozzo
Tomas Vokoun

Since the Flyers Eliminated Pittsburgh last Year…
Ben Lovejoy (5th round pick) – Not a big fan. He plays over 17 minutes a game in Anaheim with 6 assists and a +3 +/- since joining the team. I am glad he is getting a chance to play for a playoff contender at the moment. But after seeing him develop here and knowing Shero’s past trade record, just disappointed in what we got in return. (He’s no GoGo, but Neal and Nisky was spectacular just hoping for a player on par with Benny not another pick.)
Eric Tangradi – (That Other pick) Now, no one is saying Eric is working out well in WPG only having 1 goal in 12 games with about half of those games playing under 8 minutes on the Ice. A 7th rounder seems fair after witnessing his stint here in Pittsburgh. Eric has a lot of potential with his size, strength and skill set, yet if you ask me something is missing there. He neglected going to the front of the net and only felt willing at times to go into the corners, so this one felt right. But there is another player on the team I would have rather sent there in his place.
Tanner Glass – (Oh boy) 24GP = 0G, 0A & a -8. I’m not expecting much but still. If I was a GM I would be sadly disappointed in what I have seen. No matter what how much he does for you in the locker room or on the ice keeping everyone in check, he has not done anything really to help the team win. He even got time earlier in the year with Malkin and Neal and that didn’t help much either. Like I said before I wish we could have kept Tangradi on the 4th line and shipped Tanner back to WPG.
Tomas Vokoun – We pretty much have seen what we are going to see. It’s either hit or Miss with this guy. He is a perfect 1A goalie and that’s all we can ask for. He has been a constant goalie in the league for over a decade and every place he goes they say the same things about him, He’s either on or awful. Pittsburgh has already seen both and for a 7th rounder, I can accept that for at least 2 years.
Jarome Iginla – Now his presence alone would help a lot & his skill level and chemistry with Crosby would make without a doubt the best two lines in Hockey, but for the cost and him being a rental. I am not a fan of this. Pittsburgh is already FIRST in the league with goals and there are rumors Iginla is willing to go somewhere for this year and then resign back in Calgary for less the year after. Is that worth a pick or defensive prospect, I do not think so?
Jack Johnson – You’re silly; Columbus and Pittsburgh would not do this. (Simon is the future unless someone over pays greatly, looks to have too much chemistry with Letang at the moment)
Matt Cullen – I’d like it more than Devin Setoguchi but I would never over pay for him. I’m talking draft picks and a lower tier prospect, not worth it.
Jordan Leopold – Pittsburgh has enough 5 and 6 Dmen, they need more of a top 4.

With the money have they Left
there are two needs I feel Pittsburgh has to improve, if they want to win Lord Stanley. The first is a given, a top 4 Dman and not a puck moving one. They need a new Rob Scuderi type to fill in the gaps. Every other game, I am beginning to notice 4 to 5 minutes (Maybe not in a row) every period where the Pens Defense just decides to play the puck and not the man. Another Defensive minded presence would at least take a chunk out of that time to the point where it’s not noticeable anymore. The other, has to be a new Veteran presence in the locker room. The Penguins did great when they were the underdog/kids with Billy Guerin, Gary Roberts & Sergi Gonchar leading the way. But ever since they become the favorites, they haven’t had the play that has been there done that before in this situation to help keep everyone level headed in the hard times.
*Keeping my Fingers Crossed maybe they can grab one player that fills both of those roles.

Players I hope the Penguins go after:
Keith Yandle & Dustin Byfuglien - Do Not Think This Will Ever Happen! But one can dream
Mark Streit, Stephane Robidas & Shane O'Brien – Realistic as long as they are not over paid for.
Ryan Whitney & Robyn Regehr – If desperate on Deadline day.

Deadline Day: (Rental Potentials)
Kyle Okposo: Not Veteran, but still would like it.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Ray Whitney or Milan Hejduk

What do you think?

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