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Insider Only Penguins player reports vs Rangers: Despres a potential power play Quarterback?

Premium Post-Game Player Reports

Game 7 – Thursday, January 31, 2013

Penguins @ Rangers

Centers

Sidney Crosby| 1 Assist, even rating, 6 SOG, 1 TK, 1 GV, 22:32 TOI, 16 FW – 12 FL, 57.1%

Crosby picked up his 4th assist of the season on a beautiful slap pass to James Neal who re-deflected a shot past Lundqvist glove for the Penguins first power play goal in 17 opportunities. Crosby had a team high 6 shots on goal and was 6 of 9 on defensive zone draws.| Grade: B | Season Stats: 3 G – 4 A – 7 Pts – +1

Evgeni Malkin | 1 Goal, 1 Assist, + 1 rating, 3 SOG, 2 PIM, 1 BS, 1 GV, 18:29 TOI, 2 FW – 6 FL, 25%

Malkin collected his second multi-point game of the season, scoring 1:24 into the first period, blasting a one-timer past Henrik Lundqvist and added an assist on James Neal’s power play marker. Malkin has 5 points in two games vs the Rangers this season and his best games this season has been against the Rangers and in those games he’s been more focused on playing his own well which led to offense for him. One knock on Malkin was him passing up too many shot opportunities, a 2-on-1 with Dustin Jeffrey is one that stands out.   | Grade: B | Season Stats: 2 G – 6 A – 8 Pts – -2

Brandon Sutter | 0 points, even rating, 2 SOG, 2 BS, 1 GV, 1 Hit, 14:11 TOI, 9 FW – 10 FL, 47.4%.

He was active in his own end and very strong in that area but is still looking for that first goal and hasn’t been able to finish on some odd-man rushes. | Grade: C+ | Season Stats: 0 G – 1 A – 1 Pts – 0

Joe Vitale | 0 Points even rating, 1 Hit, 11:23 TOI, 3 FW – 2 FL, 60%

Got to loose pucks in the offensive zone and upped his face-off percentage on the season to 59.3%. Vitale has played 11 minutes or more in back to back games. | Grade: C+| Season Stats: 0 G – 1 A – 1 Pts – -2

Wingers

James Neal |1 Goal (PP) +1 rating, 2 SOG, 1 BS, 1 Hit, 18:41 TOI

As I wrote after the Senators game, what makes Neal such a dangerous goal scorer isn’t just his shot. It’s how he thinks as a goal scorer and gets to the right spots. He’s back in his normal spot on the power play, collecting his 1st power play goal of the season vs the Rangers. Neal’s goal was a big one. “It was a big goal for us,” Neal said. “Sid put an unbelievable pass on my stick and I just had to tip it.”  Grade: B- | Season Stats: 5 G – 0 A – 5 Pts – -3

Dustin Jeffrey | 0 Points, + 1 rating, 1 SOG,  10:20 TOI

Wasn’t very noticeable out there and had just 1 shot but I like the way he thinks the game out there with Malkin and Neal.| Grade: C+| Season Stats: 0 G – 0 A – 0 Pts – +1

Chris Kunitz | 0 Points, even rating, 1 SOG, 2 Hits, 18:52 TOI

Was a little under the weather but still saw nearly 19 minutes of ice time. However, offensively he’s looked out of sync through seven games and hasn’t been a good enough net front presence on the power play. Grade: C- | Season Stats: 1 G – 3 A – 4 Pts – +1

Pascal Dupuis | 1 Assist, + 1 rating, 1 SOG, 2 PIM, 4 Hits, 16:23 TOI

Dupuis might be the Penguins most consistent forward through seven games. He continues to bring energy on the forecheck and was tied with Tanner Glass with a team-high 4 hits. He setup Simon Despres breakaway goal, by out hustling Marc Staal for a puck and got it to Despres in the slot for the breakaway goal. Grade: B | Season Stats: 2 G – 2 A – 4 Pts – +3

Matt Cooke | 0 Points, even rating, 2 PIM, 1 Hit, 1 TK, 14:38 TOI

Although he was credited with officially just 1 hit in the game, I counted 2 for Cooke in the first period and he was playing with a bit more aggressiveness, which is a start for him. However, he took a bad penalty in the second period about 15 seconds after being hit hard in the middle of the ice on a set faceoff play. Cooke has no points in his last 12 regular season games and no goals in his last 16 games. | Grade C- | Season Stats: 0 G – 0 A – 0 Pts – +0

Tyler Kennedy | 0 Points, even rating, 3 SOG, 12:55 TOI

Played better away from the puck than he has of late and he was bringing the puck up with speed out of his zone. Pointless in his last five games. | Grade: C | Season Stats: 1 G – 0 A – 1 Pts – -4

Tanner Glass | 0 Points, even rating, 1 BS, 4 hits, 10:18 TOI

Glass got to his game with 1 blocked shot and 4 hits. Drew a Carl Hagelin penalty on the penalty kill | Grade: C+ | Season Stats: 0 G – 0 A – 0 Pts – -2

Craig Adams | 1 Assist, + 1, rating, 1 TK, 9:33 TOI

It was a sound game for Adams who picked up an assist on Despres goal. Grade: C | Season Stats: 0 G – 1 A – 1 Pts – -2

Defensemen

Kris Letang | 1 Assist, +2 rating, 3 SOG, 3 BS, 1 hit, 2 GV, 24:46 TOI

Letang was very strong in his own end, leading the Penguins with 3 blocked shots. Letang’s play on the power play was a different story. He’s just not getting it done as the power play quarterback and he’s been an issue. He’s been very timid with the puck and continues to struggle to get shots on goal. Letang had 2 giveaways in 9:22 of ice time on the PP| Grade: C+ | Season Stats: 1 G – 4 A – 5 Pts – +2

Robert Bortuzzo| 0 Points, even rating, 1 Hit, 12:11 TOI

Bortuzzo had some uneasy moments which should have been expected going up against NHL speed, and some of those uneasy moments were on clearing attempts but I thought his positioning was good and he didn’t get caught out of position much and what I really liked from him was the little bit of toughness he was bringing in front of the net and after the play. Anyone around the crease he was giving them a hard whack and he did so to Brad Richards on two occasions. | Grade: C | Season Stats: 0 G – 0 A – 0 Pts – +0

Simon Despres | 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2 rating, 2 SOG, 2 PIM, 3 hits, 1 GV, 12:47 TOI

Do the Penguins have a potential power play quarterback in Despres? Wouldn’t go that far yet but he made beautiful feed to Malkin with the right speed and right placement on the puck for Malkin’s one-timer goal at 1:24 of the first period. What Despres did on that play was never eye Malkin on the pass as he had his head up and eyes towards Lundqvist like he was going to fire a wrist shot on goal but Despres quickly fed it over to Malkin as his ability not to eye his pass drew defenders to him. Despres night would later be highlighted by a breakaway goal showing great hands after he took a bad penalty in the defensive zone. However, it’s really his poise and confidence he’s having with the puck that has people excited.| Grade: B+ | Season Stats: 1 G – 2 A – 3 Pts – +1

Paul Martin | 0 Points, even rating, 3 SOG, 1 Hit, 26:23 TOI

Getting the primary matchup against the Rangers top-line, Martin was tremendous in the game and not much to say. | Grade: A- | Season Stats: 1 G – 2 A – 3 Pts – -1

Brooks Orpik | 0 Points, even rating, 1 SOG, 1 BS, 2 hits, 24:30 TOI

After a subpar game against the Islanders, like Martin, Orpik was in the “zone” defensively and when you break down statistics per 60 minutes for Martin and Orpik together, they have truly been a shutdown pair Grade: A- | 0 G – 0 A – 0 Pts – +1

Deryk Engelland| 0 Points, + 1 rating, 11:59 TOI

I have not been high on Engelland’s play this season. The Penguins who have been getting pushed around a bit, need a bit more toughness from Engelland and I’m not talking about dropping the gloves. | Grade: C | Season Stats: 0 G – 0 A – 0 Pts – +0

Goaltenders

Tomas Vokoun | 2-1-0, 28 Saves on 28 Shots, 22 Even Strength Saves, 5 Power Play Saves, 1 SH save|

Vokoun earned his 49th career shutout in the Penguins 3-0. His rebound control and ability to slow down the play by covering up pucks and not giving up second chances has been excellent to start the year. When he’s in the net, there’s really been a calmness out there from the entire team. | Grade: A- | Season Stats: 2-1-0, 1.81 GAA, .940 sv%

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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