2012 did not start off very well for the Pens. Starting with the two games at the end of December, the Pens suffered a six game losing streak that had both players and fans very frustrated. However, the Pens have seen their luck starting to change. The last three games have resulted in a victory. News broke this afternoon that Kris Letang is returning to the lineup tonight. We will have to see how their luck holds up in the next few days, with three games in four days against difficult opponents. Here's my defensemen recap over the first seven games of 2012.
Pens. vs. Rangers 1/6 (L 3-1)
-Lovejoy scored his first goal of the season.
-The Pens started out strong in this game, especially in the first period, then just fizzled out the rest of the game. The shorthanded goal from the Rangers just took the life out of them.
-The Martin/Michalek pairing was reunited in this game.
-Fleury stopped 18 out of 21 shots.
-Lovejoy and Martin led the team with two blocked shots.
-Michalek and Lovejoy led the defensemen with three shots apiece.
-Martin led the defense with 23:20 of ice time. Malkin led the team with 23:33.
Pens vs. Devils 1/7 (L 3-1)
-Martin earned his tenth assist on the goal from Malkin.
-This was another example of a game where the Pens had the advantage early on, then all the air blew out of their tires.
-Fleury stopped 24 out of 27 shots faced.
-Martin led the team with two blocked shots.
-Engelland led the defense with five shots on goal.
-Martin led in ice time with 25:25.
Pens. vs. Senators 1/10 (L 5-1)
-There were no points from defensemen in this game
-In the midst of their losing streak, this game was probably the team's low point.
-Martin was scratched in this game due to illness.
-Despres left the game in the first period after suffering a knee injury. He is now on the IR list, expected to miss at least four weeks.
-This was a poor night from the defense. Lovejoy especially had a rough game.
-The one bright spot was the 10 hits that Orpik delivered.
-After giving up a horrible third goal, Brent Johnson was pulled. Johnson stopped 3 out of 8 shots, Fleury stopped 13 out of 15.
-Niskanen and Michalek led the team with three blocked shots apiece.
-Lovejoy led the defense with three shots on goal.
-Orpik led in ice time with 25:36.
Pens vs. Capitals 1/11 (L 1-0)
-While the Pens were shut out in this game, they gave a better effort than in their previous few matchups.
-Martin returned to the lineup.
-Fleury had a pretty good night, especially with playing back to back games.
-Orpik delivered another seven hits in this game. Michalek was next with six hits.
-Fleury stopped 20 out of 21 shots.
-Michalek led the team with two blocked shots.
-Michalek and Engelland led the defense with two shots on goal apiece.
-Orpik led in ice time with 27:12.
Pens vs. Panthers 1/13 (W 4-1)
-Orpik earned his sixth assist on the goal from Kennedy.
-The Pens finally earned a victory and we saw a much better performance from the defensemen. Fleury also had another strong night.
-Fleury stopped 25 out of 26 shots.
-Martin led the defensemen with three blocked shots.
-Michalek led the defensemen with three shots on goal.
-Martin led in ice time with 23:22.
Pens vs. Lightning 1/15 (W 6-3)
-Martin earned his 11th assist on Neal's first goal.
-Orpik earned his seventh assist on Malkin's second goal.
-The Martin/Michalek pairing had a very solid performance in this game, in my opinion.
-Fleury stopped 17 out of 20 shots.
-Orpik and Lovejoy led the team with two blocked shots apiece.
-Niskanen led the defense with two shots on goal.
-Martin led in icetime with 23:59.
Pens vs. Hurricanes 1/17 (W 2-1 SO)
-Niskanen earned his 14th assist and Martin earned his 12th assist on the goal from Malkin.
-Orpik delivered a clean, crushing hit to Jeff Skinner that has become a popular YouTube clip. He was penalized but the referee later apologized to him. Even Skinner said it was a good hit.
-Fleury helped keep the Pens in this game. He stopped 25 out of 26 shots. Cam Ward had a strong night as well being peppered with shots from the Pens.
-Orpik led the team with four blocked shots.
-Engelland and Martin led the defense with two shots on goal apiece.
-Orpik led in ice time with 26:39.
"We give up a couple goals, and everybody's attitude [stinks] afterward. You can see on the ice, our energy starts out great, then they score a couple of goals and instead of getting [angry] and battling back, we just come out flatter and kind of feel sorry for ourselves, hang our heads..."
His physical presence, especially lately, cannot be ignored on the ice. In the first seven games this month, he has 35 hits. In the game against the Senators he delivered 10 hits. Also in these seven games he has been averaging over 23 minutes of ice time. As the longest tenured Penguin currently on the team, he is a great leader to the young defensemen on the Pens roster,