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Friday, December 6, 2013

Beating the Injury Bug by @LuigiLemieux


Beating the Injury Bug

I don't know who the Penguins upset in the holy land of the Hockey Gods, but someone sure has it out for them.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are used to playing sans some of their best players, we as fans of them are used to dealing with the thought of what could have been. Sidney Crosby himself, poster boy of concussions in professional sports, played his 500th career game against the Sharks of San Jose last night, notching three assists to bring his carrer total to 706 points. Again, as we did with Le Magnifique, we wonder what could have been...

This year however, The Kid is cruising. As sharp as ever Crosby is producing at a phenomenal rate, making everyone around him better. It is that trait that must carry through the rest of the season if the Pens are to find continued success, with a injury list that could rival some all-star teams, and plenty of unsurity as to the legnth and severity of certain issues, as players make their way in and out of the lineup it will be up to those left behind, not just The Captain, to shoulder the load.

On the offensive side, with Beau Bennett out after surgury, Glass sitting with a broken hand, Malkin out with a lower-body injury, and now Pascal Dupuis taking his spot on the day-to-day list, we need to see some production out of some other facets of the team. Jayson Megna , for example has proven to be a great addition to the Penguins attack, assuming they keep him up long enough to make a difference. I would give him a shot, he has proven to be a reliable winger that has the legs and hands to keep up with our top guys.

On the defensive front, the absence of Rob Scuderi has been noteworthy in front of the net, where he was always a force to be reckoned with for any opposing rush. As missed as he is, the big time play of Olli Matta and Matt Niskanen has kept things moving along at a decent pace and has kept Fleury out of too much trouble between the pipes.

Speaking of Fleury, he has been rock solid the past few starts, that is if you are asking anyone who actually watched the games. If you are asking Logan Couture, he will tell your Fleury was "Not at his best" which means just about as much as the number of times Couture beat Fleury last night. I cant help but be impressed with the play of backup netminder Jeff Zatkoff, who in the absence of Tomas Vokoun has stood as tall as you could ask a rookie in the NHL to stand.

The Defense is also without veteran Paul Martin, who is out with a broken tibia. Unfortunate really, as he has been playing what has been one of his best years with the Penguins to date. A shoe in for the US Olympic team, we can only hope that Martin returns sooner rather than later. In the mean time the mashup defensive pairings we have seen have done nothing short of a surprisingly good job (save for the occasional unfortunate play from Kris Letang).

The one player that has surprised me the most, and I will say it until I am blue in the face, has been Olli Maatta, who has been excellent for the Pens thusfar in his yourng career, a guy that plays far ahead of his years, I feel like Maatta is going to be an anchor for this team in the near future. In fact, he may already be the strongest link in the defensive armor of the Penguins. Close runner up on the offensive side has been Jayson Megna, who is finnaly getting the chance he deserves.

 I am excited to see the way this team has risen to the occasion and dealt with the injury bug in stride. If this enthusiastic play continues, I cant help but be excited for the future if this team, not only this season, but for the forseeable future. Talent only gets you as far as the inspiration behind it allows, and this team is playing nothing short of inspired hockey.

Keep it up, we have a long season ahead.

 Let's Go Pens

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