Blueline Beat: 11/19/11-11/28/11

In the past five games, the Pens seem to have been on a roller coaster. There was a loss, then the return of Crosby and Michalek the next game. There was an overtime loss, then a big win against the Senators. Letang has his nose broken, then comes back to win the game. Here is my recap of the defensemen.

Pens vs. Panthers 11/19 (L3-2)

-Niskanen earned his fourth assist on the Staal goal.

-Brent Johnson got the start in the last game on the Dad's trip and stopped 28 of 31 shots.

-Martin and Orpik each had one blocked shot.

-Martin led the defense with three shots on net.

-Letang led in ice time with 24:47.

Pens vs. Islanders 11/21 (W 5-0)

-While it was overshadowed by Crosby's return, Michalek made his own return ahead of schedule from his broken finger injury. He played a solid game.

-Engelland earned his fourth assist on Crosby's first goal.

-Orpik scored his second goal of the season on a blast from the point. With opponents flocking around Crosby it gave Orpik much more room to find the net.

-Letang earned his 15th assist on Malkin's power play goal.

-Michalek earned his third assist on Crosby's second goal.

-Also a bit overshadowed by Crosby's return was Fleury's shutout. It was the 21st shutout of his career, which puts him one behind Tom Barrasso's franchise record of 22.

-Martin and Letang both led the defense with two blocked shots.

-Michalek led the defense with three shots on goal. When Michalek takes his heavy shot, most times it seems to be on net.

-Letang led in ice time with 24:09.

Pens vs. Blues 11/23 (OTL 3-2)

-There were no points from defensemen in this game. This was notably a very physical game.

-Two players that deserve mention here are Orpik and Fleury. Orpik had nine hits in this game and helped keep the opposition at bay while out on the ice. Fleury made key saves at the right time that helped the Pens come back and tie the game to take it to OT.

-This was Michalek's 500th game.

-Fleury stopped 4o of 43 shots.

-Orpik led the team with eight blocked shots. Also worth mentioning is Michalek, who had six blocked shots.

-Letang led the defense with three shots on net.

-Orpik led in icetime with 28:44.

Pens vs. Senators 11/25 (W 6-3)

-Engelland earned his fifth assist on the Kunitz goal.

-Martin earned his fifth assist on Kennedy's goal.

-Letang earned his 16th assist on Malkin's goal.

-Martin earned his sixth assist and second of the game on Staal's goal. It was a good game for Martin, who has been struggling.

-Fleury stopped 24 of 27 shots.

-Michalek led the team with five blocked shots.

-Letang led the defense with two shots on net.

-The defensemen's minutes were spread pretty evenly in this game. Letang had the most with 21:50.

Pens vs. Canadiens 11/26 OTW (4-3)

-Martin earned his seventh assist on the Dupuis goal.

-Letang scored his third goal of the season and game winner in OT. Engelland earned his sixth assist on that goal.

-Everyone held their breath when Letang took the hit from Max Pacioretty that broke his nose and left blood splattered around the ice. True to hockey player form, he left for a bit, had some work done on his nose, and came back for overtime. What made it great was scoring the game winner.

-Michalek led the team with four blocked shots.

-Letang led the team (tied with Malkin) in shots on net with six.

-Letang led in ice time with 24:36.

Best of the Blueline

I had my mind made up on who I was going to talk about before the Canadiens game, but I do have to mention Letang for coming back and playing after this to score the game winner.

Now, to the other defenseman I wish to mention...

When Brooks Orpik returned to the lineup late in October after his injury Pens fans were ecstatic, for good reason. In November alone, he has scored two goals (beating the one goal he had all last season) and has 38 hits (48 on the season). Orpik is one of the most physical players on the team. The majority of his 24 blocked shots on the season are most likely from his penalty kill time, where he is a great asset. He is a great locker room presence who has probably spoken up when the team has been down. He has chemistry in his pairing with Letang and I think he is going to have a great season.

I'm getting some stats from the month of November ready which I will share in my next post. Thanks for reading and Go Pens!!


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