Pens Get Big Boost From Free Candy by @MadChad412

www.post-gazette.com 
After allowing four goals in back-to-back games the Pittsburgh Penguins are lucky to be up in their series two games to one. The defense has been mediocre at best, allowing the Islanders to have many scoring chances and giving up 78 shots in the last two games. The good news, help is on the way! 

The Pens have been without veteran defensemen Brooks Orpik for the first three games. In game one they managed to put together a 5-0 shutout but since then it's been ugly on the back-end. The Islanders have used their speed and determination to get to the net and plundering goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with a brigade of shots.Although I called out Orpik for mediocre play during much of this regular season, there is no denying that the Pens will get a big boost when he returns to the lineup. Orpik bring so much to the table in so many different areas.

Orpik was second on the team in hits during the regular season with 119. If he can come out and give some "Free candy" to the Islanders it could make closing out this series for the Pens that much easier. The Pens need to outhit their opponents every night, that's part of their game. Without Orpik that's not realistic. John Tavares and particularly Kyle Okposo need a big bag of free candy.



The shots on goal are concerning as well. During the regular season the Pens gave up 29.2 shots per-game, which was in the middle of the pack. So far the Pens have given up 34.7 shots per-game in the playoffs. Orpik led the team in blocked shots during the regular season with 114. Surely those numbers don't need to be further explained as to why he will help the Pens in that area.


Orpik will provide leadership and hopefully help the Pens regain their intensity. The Pens have looked lethargic for much of games two and three. With Orpik joining Douglas Murray on the back-end, well good luck walking down the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

With Orpik back, the Pens won't have to rely on playoff-inexperienced rookie defenseman Simon Despres, who looked dazed and confused in game three. That was a fucking nightmare to have him out there, things literally couldn't have gone wore for the young Despres. Orpik back also keeps the useless Deryk Engelland out of the lineup.

The thing that Orpik won't help with is speed. The Islanders are fast and Orpik has gotten progessively slower over the years. Orpik looked so slow this year that I actually wrote an article saying that the Pens should look into buying his contract out.

But now that the playoffs are here we can all once again see how truly valuable Orpik is. One guy that can't wait to get Orpik back is Paul Martin. Martin had a big rebound year before his injury and was playing his best when paired with Orpik. Reuniting those two will sure up the back-end.

Hopefully Orpik will be more 2007-2008 Orpik, hitting everything that moves. That's what the Pens need. They need free candy.

Here's hoping Orpik comes back game four. If not game four, the sooner the better.

I'm ready for some free candy. The Pens are too.


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About Chad Nolan

Steelers, Pens, Pirates....Yup
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