Blueline Beat: 11/1/11-11/10/11

After an October that seemed crammed with games, the Pens have only played two games so far in the month of November. The Pens started out the month with another West Coast road trip that had us up late watching those two games. Here's my recap of the defensemen those two games.

Pens vs. Sharks: 11/3/11 (L 4-3 SO)

-Engelland got his first goal in 33 games and also dropped the gloves with Clowe, making him one assist away from the Gordie Howe. Engelland played a strong game.

-Niskanen missed some shifts after taking a knee-on-knee hit in the first period. We're still not completely sure the extent of his injury.

-More bad news for the defensemen: Lovejoy left the game in the second period with a broken wrist, and is now on IR. Bylsma said he will miss a minimum of six weeks. The Pens had to finish the rest of this long game with five defensemen.

-It looked as if the Pens could possibly take this game, but the Sharks came out swarming in the third period and it was just too much for the D to handle.

-Fleury stopped 34 of 37 shots and had the shootout loss.

-Martin led the team with four blocked shots.

-Letang led the defensemen with five shots.

-Letang led in ice time with 33:56

Pens vs. Kings 11/5/11 (W 3-2 SO)

-Letang earned his 12th assist of the season on Sullivan's power play goal.

-Letang also netted a slick backhanded goal in the shootout.

-With Michalek and now Lovejoy out of the lineup, Alexandre Picard and Robert Bortuzzo got the call-ups. This was Bortuzzo's NHL debut. You did not notice both of them out there too much, but that is not a bad thing.

-Fleury stopped 24 of 26 shots and helped keep the Pens in this high-tempo game.

-Martin led the team with three blocked shots.

-Letang led the defensemen with two shots.

-Letang led in ice time again with 32:33.

Best of the Blueline

Kris Letang has been a workhorse. He led the team in average ice time in October with just above 26 minutes. With the past two games going into overtime, he played over 30 minutes in both and appeared in the shootouts. We just have to hope he does not become burnt out. You cannot deny his physicality; in the last game alone against the Kings he had seven hits. He is earning almost one point per game. He is tied for third place in the league in assists with 12, which makes him tied for second among defensemen. With injuries plaguing the defensemen, Letang is showing he is up to the task of some added responsibilities.

The Pens have four games in the next week. Let's hope to see some more victories!


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