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Who have arguably been the Penguins top performers at the forward position over the last handful of regular season games and into the playoffs? It’s been a group of pending unrestricted free agents for the Penguins, most notably role players Max Talbot, Arron Asham, Craig Adams and Mike Rupp.
Many of them are showing their value in several different areas:
Craig Adams the Penguins gritty 4th line center, has posted a team high 56.5% in the face-off circle during the post-season, well over his regular season percentage of 41.7 %.
Adams picked up his playing near the end of the regular season, collecting three points (1G-2A) over final the four regular-season games and his offensive production has carried into the playoffs, scoring Pittsburgh’s lone goal in Game 2 vs. Tampa Bay.
Adams also leads the Penguins with 12 postseason hits and a plus-3 rating (tied). He has 6 playoff goals with the Penguins in 40 games.
Mike Rupp was arguably the Penguins best forward in their final couple of regular season games. He was a force, collecting three goals and four points over his final five regular-season games and in the post-season he is tied for the team lead with a plus-3 rating to go along with one assist, and 7 hits.
Max Talbot who I’m going to touch base in a next post, is enhancing his free agent value according to scouts around the league I’ve spoken with. Reasons why? He’s showing the ability to be a formidable third line center.
Talbot is 54% in the faceoff circle during the playoffs and has been strong defensively, collecting 5 hits, 4 blocked shots and a +1 rating in three games.
Talbot whose 30 career postseason points (14G-16A) rank 13th in Penguins franchise history, collected his 14th career playoff goal in Monday’s 3-2 win. Courtesy of the Penguins communications department, Talbot has eight ‘important’ goals among his 14 career postseason tallies. Important goals are considered opening goals of games (he has 3), game-tying goals that force overtime (1) and game-winning goals (4).
Arron Asham is among the 4 pending free agents who has stepped up his play considerably. In fact, Asham has been the Penguins most impact forward thus far.
Asham has collected 2 goals in the series and recorded points in all three postseason games to give him a team-high three points (tied) and a team-leading two goals.
His ability to jump start his game in the playoffs has him back on managements radar for next season. Asham has six points (4G-2A) over his previous 10 postseason games dating back to last spring with Philadelphia.