Penguin Notes: By the numbers, Despres with great opportunity

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**Sidney Crosby leads the NHL in scoring with 78 points (28G, 50A), 11 more than Ryan Getzlaf and 12 more than the Sochi-fallen John Tavares.

**Crosby has 55 primary points, which include goals and first assists. Getzlaf leads with 58 primary points.

**Evgeni Malkin ranks 9th in the league with 58 points (18G, 40A) despite playing in only 47 of 58 games.
Interestingly, Malkin has one more primary assist (28) than Crosby does (27).

**Crosby has registered 32 fewer hits than he’s received (63 hits to 31 hits) while Malkin has been hit 64 times more than he’s registered hits on opposing players (84 to 20).

**Chris Kunitz sits 17th in scoring with 55 points (27G, 28A) in 58 games. Kunitz has taken 24 penalties while drawing 15, giving him a net minus-9 penalties (24-15). That’s the worst mark among the top 20 scorers and fourth-worst among the top 50. Dustin Byfuglien (-15), Thomas Vanek (-11) and Jason Spezza (-11) are the only other top-50 scorers with worse ratios.

**The best Penguins forward not to make an Olympics team, James Neal, is one of 12 players to pot eight power-play goals, good for fifth-most. Kunitz ranks second in the league with 12 power-play goals, three behind the leading Alexander Ovechkin (15).

**Crosby leads the NHL in points per game scoring (1.34) while Malkin holds down second place (1.23 ppg) and Neal (1.22 ppg) is third. Steven Stamkos has the best numbers (1.35 ppg) but has only played in 17 games and doesn’t qualify.

**Penguins fans might remember defender Alex Grant, who was draft 118th overall by Pittsburgh in 2007. Grant has an amazing statistic in that he has scored two goals and has taken a total of two shots. Nothing like a 100 percent shooting percentage!

**Malkin, who missed in the Olympics shootout loss to Team Oshie, has converted all three of his NHL shootout attempts. Only Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle (4-for-4) is better.

**Defenseman Matt Niskanen leads the NHL with a plus-29 rating. There is a precedent for his impressive plus-minus rating and it’s not in Pittsburgh. Niskanen registered a plus-22 rating as a rookie with Dallas in 2007-08. His play had slipped the last couple games before the Olympics, but he’ll be needed more than ever with both Kris Letang and Paul Martin sidelined.

**Out of the top-50 hitters, Tanner Glass (4.05) and Matt Martin (4.58) are the only two players averaging better than four hits per game.

**For whatever it’s worth, Ovechkin’s Corsi (576) and Fenwick (429) are miles ahead of Crosby’s (302 and 248, respectively).

**Marc-Andre Fleury 22nd among goalies with a .921 save percentage during 5-on-5 play. That’s not really very good, but it’s not very unexpected, either. Fleury moves up to 10th in the league with a .919 save percentage overall.

**Despite missing 25 games, Kris Letang has scored the seventh-most goals (10) among blueliners, matching his career high.

**Boston’s Torey Krug leads all rookie defenseman in points with 12 goals and 32 points in 57 games. He cut his teethin 15 playoff games a year ago. Olli Maatta is a rookie in the truest sense and has totaled the second-most points (23), including six goals and 17 assists, in 57 games.

The difference between Maatta and Despres is the way they handle setbacks. Maatta served as a healthy scratch for one game. He didn’t get down or pout while he was out and returned with a vengeance. Despres reportedly didn’t have the same, positive reaction.

Despres will join the Pens for Thursday’s tilt against Montreal. He has the greatest opportunity of his career ahead of him right now – no reason to pout. Here’s to hoping he takes advantage of it. Whether that means he simple raises his long-term value or becomes a regular top-six blueliner in Pittsburgh, he has a remarkable chance in front of him.

***********

Treasure Life!
JT
@JohnToperzer
@PiratesTalk

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