If you watch enough hockey, you’ll hear announcers talk about players with high motors. You never hear anyone say ‘that guy’s got a real low motor.’ Trying to describe how players expend on-ice energy to my father, I found it simple to rate players from 1 to 100, with lower motors starting at 1 and higher motors peaking at 100. Let’s take a look at some of Pittsburgh’s motors.
Sidney Crosby: I have to say his motor idles at about 85. It’s almost like he thinks to himself ‘if I slow down, I might miss something.’ And he’s right. That’s what makes him Sidney Crosby.
Evgeni Malkin: I’d say Malkin skates at about a 65. That’s not even meant to knock him. When he swoops in to make a play or goes on a skating rampage, his motor moves into the 95 range. He picks and chooses when to expend his energy. There was another guy like that and he happens to own the Penguins right now (No, not Ron Burkle).
Joe Vitale, Chris Kunitz — These guys both have high motors, say 90 for Vitale, 88 for the Honey Badger.
Pascal Dupuis — Another guy who always skates hard. So long as he skates like his next shift might be his last, he’s got a spot next to Crosby. I’ll give him an 80, but he’s just a great skater.
Jussi Jokinen — I would say his motor sometimes has an engine problem. Overall I’d give him a 65 but sometimes he gets stuck in neutral.
Paul Martin — It doesn’t look like he’s going full tilt, but he probably gets the best gas mileage on the team. He’s smarter than me and you, smarter than most of the players on the ice.
Jeff Zatkoff — He better have a spare in his trunk because he does a lot of off-road driving.
Rob Scuderi Injury Pro’s
Broken ankles are easier to recover from than severely sprained ones.
He’ll be fresh for the stretch drive and playoffs, and isn’t that what Penguins really care about anyhow?
Forces coach Bylsma to consider using youth in the lineup. He’s typically not a fan of bringing in young defensemen if he doesn’t have to.
The Pens get salary cap relief while he’s out.
Rob Scuderi Injury Con’s
There’s no one else remotely like him in the Pittsburgh organization
Scuderi’s absence might force Marc-Andre Fleury back to the sports psychologist, he’s lost his security blanket
What happened to the Olli Maatta buzz? It’s almost like the collective attention span of Penguins fans has moved on to something else. Truth be told, Maatta has looked more and more like a 19-year-old in the past week or so. I’m not sure why he’s seeing as much power play time as he is. I’d rather see Simon Despres on the man advantage than Maatta. Last I looked, Despres had three assists and a plus-6 rating in nine AHL games.
That said, I don’t think the Penguins will recall him to see regular time. If he does get the nod, he’ll likely bounce in and out of the lineup. Despres is probably better seeing regular minutes with the Baby Pens, even though Bylsma called Despres a “top-four defenseman” after last season’s playoffs.
Aside from his 2011-12 MVP year, Evgeni Malkin has averaged less than a point per game in three of his last four seasons. He’s been hurt with knee problems, there’s been a work stoppage, he’s been tired out by playing in the KHL. This year he’s lost his even strength linemates — the list of reasons for his sub-Superman performances are all legit and go on and on. They show why he’s totaled only 80 points in 86 games aside from his MVP year since 2010 — numbers great for a player like Chris Kunitz, mediocre for Malkin and someone taking the salary cap chunk he’s taking.
Has Malkin willingly accepted second fiddle to Sidney Crosby? He doesn’t often have that spark setting him apart from the rest of the players and when he does, it comes and goes. It’s almost like he’s so driven by his confidence level that if things aren’t going well early, you can almost tell he’s not going to have a big night.
Personally, I’d like to see what Malkin could do on another team. He’s played better when Crosby’s been hurt (not always, but usually). The last thing I’d wish is for Crosby to again get hurt. Instead, for Malkin’s own career development, he might be better off going to another team where he can be the man. Are the Penguins a better team with Geno? Of course they are. But they were a much better team when Malkin played like he did when winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in the Cup year. Where o’ where has that player gone?
The day before the Penguins decided to keep Maatta around, I did a little bit of research on hockey database. Looking at the defensemen drafted in the first round with the most games played in the NHL since 2009 is not necessarily a pretty sight.
Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman was taken second overall in 2009. He’s played 266 NHL games, more than any other no. 1 draft pick (on defense). His development has proven painful. I think he’s finally getting it, but his most notorious development might be hitting Crosby to give him consecutive concussions.
In 2010, Anaheim’s Cam Fowler was taken 12th overall. He’s played in 204 games. Fowler had a stellar rookie campaign but has since struggled.
In 2011, the Devils’ took Adam Larsson fourth overall. He’s played 108 times and has served as a healthy scratch with more and more frequency.
Hedman and Larsson developed in Europe, whereas Maatta played for OHL London. That’s a big difference. Still, bringing in highly ranked defensemen early to the big time doesn’t always work.
For the Penguins sake, let’s hope Maatta works out better than the above guys.
That’s all for this morning, have a great day!