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Insider Only Penguins vs Flyers Post-Game Player Reports: Sutter, Cooke, & Martin earn high marks

Premium Post-Game Player Reports

Game 1 – Saturday, January 19, 2012

Penguins @ Flyers

Centers

Sidney Crosby | 0 points, -1 rating, 3 SOG, 24 shifts, 19:00 TOI-2:21 PP- 1:25 SH – 15:14 EV, 13 FW – 7 FL, 65%

Sidney Crosby was held pointless and didn’t have a great jump in his step as the game worn on. Early in the game Crosby took a hard hit in the neutral zone from Nicklas Grossman. Crosby was very solid in the faceoff circle, winning 65% of his draws and he was excellent in the first period. Crosby won 7 of 9 draws in the first period. One area Crosby was a factor was on the forecheck, and the Penguins team speed was a difference when the Penguins controlled the play in the first period. Crosby saw 1:25 of ice time on the penalty kill | Grade: C+ |

Evgeni Malkin | 1 Assist, +1 rating, 2 SOG, 2 PIM, 20 shifts, 16:50 TOI-3:13 PP – 0:06 SH – 13:31 EV, 7 FW – 5 FL, 58.3%

Evgeni Malkin came out of the gates very strong in the game and was the best player on the ice in the first period. He looked like a player who had some games under his belt. Malkin’s ability in the faceoff circle stood out early on. Malkin beat Sean Couturier for a clean win in the left faceoff dot, winning the puck right back to James Neal stationed at the top of the circle and Neal sniped it past Bryzgalov to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead at the 7:20 mark of the first period. Malkin overall won 58.3% of faceoffs. | Grade: B- |

Brandon Sutter | 0 points, even rating, 0 SOG, 2 PIM, 2 TK, 25 Shifts, 17:08 TOI-2:05 PP – 2:43 SH – 12:20 EV, 8 FW – 6 FL, 57.1%.

All you had to do was listen to the announcers constantly rave about Brandon Sutter and you get the point that he had a pretty good game. Sutter giving the Penguins a right handed faceoff man is going to be big this year and it was today. Late on the Penguins opening power play of the game, Sutter won a clean draw in the left faceoff circle back to Matt Niskanen and Paul Martin’s  shot was deflected by Tyler Kennedy past Bryzgalov, giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Sutter’s day ended with no points or no shots but he was just a factor in so many areas. Offensively he carried the puck with speed and poise and most notably was a part of a new look penalty kill that gave the Flyers troubles. Sutter and Adams had good chemistry together on the PK. | Grade: B+ |

Dustin Jeffrey | 0 points, even rating, 0 SOG, 2 PIM, 1 GV, 15 Shifts, 8:49 TOI-0:00 PP – 0:38 SH – 8:11 EV, 5 FW – 3 FL, 62.5%.

Looking for more offense from the 4th line, Dustin Jeffrey moved into the lineup over Joe Vitale and it won’t be a surprise if Vitale gets back into the lineup tomorrow night. Jeffrey was not very smart with the puck in his own end but was a plus in the faceoff circle, winning 5 of 8 draws. | Grade: C-|

Wingers

James Neal | 1 Goal, +1 rating, 7 SOG, 2 hits, 1 TK, 1 GV, 19 shifts, 16:16 TOI-2:05 PP – 0:00 SH, 14:1 EV

Neal scored the game winning goal and earned the No. 1 star. He fired a team-high seven shots on goal, was very effective down low, and continues to have the look of one of the premier goal scorers in the game. In his new power play role, Neal did an effective job of getting lost and finding the seams and on the Penguins first power play opportunity 2:48 in, Neal did a perfect example of what the coaching staff wants from him in that spot, sneaking down near the left post and Kris Letang fed him a cross-ice pass but Neal wasn’t able to finish. | Grade: B+ |

Eric Tangradi | 0 Points, +1 rating, 0 SOG, 3 hits, 16 shifts, 11:24 TOI-0:00 PP – 0:00 PK – 11:24 EV

Tangradi had some good moments with his wall play but didn’t show any signs of being able to make things happen offensively at NHL speed with Malkin and Neal. There were a few instances where Tangradi had the puck on the rush down the left wing and poked the puck in and try to go get it on the forecheck. That’s what the Penguins have wanted him to do in the American Hockey League and is the right play constantly when you’re playing on the 4th line not a top-line role with two elite talents. | Grade: D+ |

Chris Kunitz | 1 Goal, -1 rating, 1 SOG, 4 Hits, 21 Shifts, 14:22 TOI-2:04 PP – 0:00 SH – 12:18 EV

Kunitz was physical presence on the forecheck and netted an empty net goal in the win. Kunitz was plagued by a defensive breakdown on the Flyers long goal of the game where the Penguins had two players back in Paul Martin and Kunitz, and Kunitz responsible for the trailer (Claude Giroux), was focused on Hartnell when it was Martin’s man and Kunitz was never able to identify Giroux and Hartnell made a great pass to Giroux for the goal. | Grade: C- |

Pascal Dupuis | 0 Points, -1 rating, 3 hits, 1 TK, 23 shifts, 15:29 TOI-0:56 PP – 3:34 SH – 10:59 EV

Dupuis played a big role on the penalty kill, seeing 3:34 of shorthanded time and his speed and hustle for puck battles was excellent in the game. One instance that stood out was Dupuis showing great hustle on an icing call, keeping the play alive and leading to a Nick Grossman cross-checking penalty at 3:48 of second period. Dupuis speed remains top notch but the Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis line created few scoring chances. | Grade: C+ |

Matt Cooke | 0 Points, even rating, 1 SOG, 7 hits, 1 TK, 21 shifts, 14:52 TOI-0:00 PP – 4:12 SH – 10:40 EV

Matt Cooke played a Matt Cooke type of game the Penguins want out of him. He was a physical presence with a team-high 7 hits and led all Penguin forwards with 4:12 of ice time shorthanded. | Grade B+ |

Tyler Kennedy | 1 Goal (PP), even rating, 2 SOG, 3 hits, 19 shifts, 12:04 TOI-1:48 PP – 0:00 SH – 10:16 EV

Tyler Kennedy had a solid game, scoring a power play goal and being a factor on the cycle in the offensive zone. | Grade: C+ |

Tanner Glass | 0 Points, even rating, 1 SOG, 1 BS, 3 hits, 20 shifts, 13:02 TOI-0:00 PP – 2:09 SH – 10:53 EV

Tanner Glass had a very solid debut, bringing an added dimension to the fourth line of speed on the forecheck and when Joe Vitale is in the lineup, this is going to be a strong forechecking group. Glass was also a factor on the PK working as the third pairing of forwards. Glass who is pegged to play with Evgeni Malkin during defensive situations, had one shift with Malkin and Neal. | Grade: C+ |

Craig Adams | 0 Points, even rating, SOG, 1 BS, 2 hits, 18 shifts, 12:53 TOI-0:00 PP – 4:03 SH – 8:50 EV

Head Coach Dan Bylsma relied heavily on Adams during the PK as he saw the second most time among forwards and Adams kept the game from going to overtime, getting a stick on a shot that was headed into the net. | Grade: B |

Defensemen

Kris Letang | 0 points, +1 rating, 3 SOG, 2 BS, 0 Hits, 1 GV, 26 shifts, 27:03 TOI-2:04 PP – 4:48 SH

Letang played an all around solid game and he was very effective at picking his spots well on the penalty kill. When players would turn their back, Letang provided constant pressure, not letting the Flyers setup down low. Letang was second among defensemen with 4:48 TOI on the penalty kill. | Grade: B- |

Simon Despres | 0 Points, even rating, 0 SOG, 2 PIM, 1 Hit, 16 Shifts, 10:26 TOI-0:00 PP – 0:26 SH – 10:00 EV

Despres had some uneasy moments early in the game. Despres was called for an interference penalty at 11:46 of the first period after misplacing the puck and getting caught for interference. Despres, though, appeared more confident as the game went on, especially when bringing the puck up on the breakout. | Grade: C |

Matt Niskanen | 1 Assist, +1 rating, 3 SOG, 2 PIM, 1 BS, 2 Hits, 1 GV, 25 Shifts, 23:12 TOI-1:48 PP – 3:29 SH – 17:55 EV

Niskanen played a solid all around game in a top pairing role, seeing 23:12 of ice time. He’s gone from a player who played really soft when first acquired by Pittsburgh to now playing with some grittiness and the speed of Niskanen and Letang makes it difficult for teams to beat Letang and Niskanen down low for pucks on the forecheck. | Grade: B- |

Paul Martin | 2 Assists, -1 rating, 0 SOG, 3 BS, 1 Hit, 1 TK, 1 GV, 27 Shifts, TOI-2:21 PP – 4:19 SH – 17:27 EV

Paul Martin had a very positive game, playing a shutdown role against the Claude Giroux line and playing the right side. Martin’s play was very sound in the neutral zone in keeping players to outside. From a positional standpoint, he looked like the Paul Martin from a couple years ago and what stood out for me was that Martin looked comfortable out there with Orpik as his partner. | Grade: B+ |

Brooks Orpik | 0 Points, -1 rating, 3 BS, 2 Hits, 1 GV, 27 Shifts, 22:12 TOI-0:00 PP – 5:22 SH – 16:50 EV

When you evaluate the tape from the Penguins penalty kill woes vs the Flyers last post-season, Orpik was among a number of players who really struggled in the series and constantly got caught running around and out of position. Today Orpik and the Penguins as a whole, played much more sound defensively in staying in their spots and Orpik led all players with 5:22 of ice time shorthanded. At even strength and matching up against the Giroux line, Orpik kept his game simple, meshing well with Martin but did get caught out of position on the Giroux goal, trying to go for the big hit on Schenn. He gets a B- for his heavy workload on the PK. | Grade: B- |

Deryk Engelland| 0 Points, even rating, 1 SOG, 2 PIM, 1 BS, 1 Hit, 18 Shifts, 10:52 TOI-0:00 PP – 0:26 SH – 10:26 EV

Engelland did not see much ice and he took a bad interference penalty with 5:33 left in the third period. A penalty you just can’t take when trying to hold a lead. | Grade: D+ |

Goaltenders

Marc-Andre Fleury | 1-0-0, 26 Saves on 27 Shots, .963 save percentage, Saves by period | 1st: 6 – 2nd: 10 – 3rd: 10

Marc Andre Fleury made 26 saves on 27 shots, earning career win No. 227, a franchise record. Fleury’s rebound control wasn’t great and he got a couple lucky bounces, but he really battled today and this was a big performance for him. | Grade: B + |

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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