The Pens are riding the wave of a nine game winning streak, hoping to make it ten tonight. With Letang being out of the lineup, the defense has needed to step up their game, and for the most part they have. Now with Crosby and Letang set to make their return tonight, a healthy roster is finally in their sights.
Pens vs. Avalanche 3/3 W 5-1
-With Letang out, Lovejoy got a spot back in the lineup.
-Orpik earned his 11th assist on the goal from Asham
-Engelland scored his fourth goal of the season.
-Martin earned his 19th assist on the goal from Malkin.
-Michalek earned his seventh assist on the goal from Park.
-Martin earned his 20th assist and Orpik his 12th on the empty netter from Sullivan.
-Fleury played a great game and stopped 35 out of 36 shots.
-The defense knew they had to step up their game without Letang, and they did.
-Lovejoy led the defense with three shots on goal.
-Martin led the team with four blocked shots.
-Orpik led in ice time with 23:03.
Pens vs. Coyotes 3/5 w 2-1
-With Engelland out with a lower body injury, Brian Strait got the call up.
-Michalek scored his second goal of the season against his old team. He always seems to play a solid game against his former club.
-Martin earned his 21st assist on the goal from Kunitz.
-Fleury was the difference in this game. The Coyotes came out strong and Fleury held his own, stopping 36 out of 37 shots.
-Michalek led the defense with two shots on goal.
-Strait led the team with four blocked shots.
-Michalek led in ice time with 25:09.
Pens vs. Leafs 3/7 W 3-2
-Niskanen earned his 16th assist on the first goal from Dupuis.
-Orpik earned his 13th assist on the goal from Staal.
-Lovejoy earned his 3rd assist on the second goal from Dupuis.
-This was not necessarily the best game for the defense, allowing the Leafs too many chances, but they were still able to come up with the win.
-Thiessen got his second NHL start. After being down 2-0, he kept his composure and ended up stopping 22 out of 24 shots.
-Niskanen led the defense with three shots on goal.
-Michalek and Orpik led the team with three blocked shots each.
-Orpik led the defense in ice time with 23:39. Malkin led the team with 23:56.
Pens vs. Panthers 3/ 9 W 2-1 SO
-With Martin being ill Despres got the call up.
-Once again Fleury was sharp and stopped 28 out of 29 shots and got the win in the shootout.
-Michalek led the defense with three shots on goal.
-Orpik led the team with five blocked shots.
-Michalek led in ice time with 28:04.
Pens vs. Bruins 3/11 w 5-2
-Engelland made his return to the lineup.
-Lovejoy earned his 4th assist on the goal from Asham.
-Niskanen scored his fourth goal of the season.
-Engelland earned his 12 assist of the season on the goal from Dupuis.
-Fleury stopped 34 out of 36 shots.
-Niskanen led the defense with four shots on goal, which is an improvement after missing the net a lot.
-Michalek and Orpik led the defense with three shots on goal.
-Niskanen led in ice time with 23:06.
Best of the Blueline
In the absence of Kris Letang, and a few games without Deryk Engelland and Paul Martin, the rest of the defense has needed to step it up. In the past handful of games, with the exception perhaps of the game against the Bruins, I feel that Zbynek Michalek has deserved credit. This season he has found some troubles between injuries and some less than stellar performances. However, he seems to be making a turn around lately. He played a very impressive game against his former team, the Phoenix Coyotes, and against the Panthers. Michalek has always had the ability to block shots well, and is a key part of the Pens highly successful penalty kill. He does not score many points, but he has had one goal and one assist in the last five games. Michalek also has the ability to rack up the ice time, especially in the absence of some of the other defensemen; in the overtime game against the Panthers he played for 28 minutes. It took some time for him to find his stride this season, but when he is on his game, Michalek is one solid defensive defenseman.
Thanks for reading, and Let's Go Pens!