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Scouting The Enemy: Pittsburgh Penguins

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We take a deeper look inside the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight at 6PM, the Florida Panthers will take on the Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA. The Panthers are 1-1-0 against the Pens this season. The last time they played was on December 22nd in Sunrise, FL. The Panthers managed to play the Pens straight up through regulation, with two goals by Jimmy Hayes (8, 9) and one from Jussi Jokinen (4). Sean Bergenheim had two assists, and Roberto Luongo made 24 saves through regulation and overtime. The shootout made it through six rounds with neither team finding paydirt before Aleksander Barkov beat Marc-Andre Fleury for a 4-3 Florida win * Box Score

The Panthers will be playing Pittsburgh for the 82nd time through their history, the equivalent of a full NHL season. Florida has managed to post a record just above .500, earning 51.2% of all available points in direct confrontation. They own a 35-33-9 overall record, with four ties before they became obsolete. The Pens have gotten the better of the series overall, as they've gone 42-31-4 with those same four ties.

Now, a little more on today's Penguins.

Forward Corps

First Line

14 - Chris Kunitz

Kunitz is a 6', 193 lb., 35-year-old winger from Regina, Saskatchewan. The 11-year NHL veteran is with his third NHL team. He was part of the NHL All-Star first time in 2013.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

709

222

284

506

This Season

50

15

20

35

Last 10 played

10

1

4

5

vs. Florida

25

5

9

14

Assets: Is a great forechecker and hitter. Has savvy offensive instincts and overall polish. Is a deft playmaker with a little bit of a mean streak. Skates very well and provides some grit.
Flaws: Lacks high-end goal-scoring acumen, mainly because he passes up way too many shots. Isn't very big by today's NHL standards, so he tends to wear down over time.
Career Potential: Solid complementary winger with physicality.

87 - Sidney Crosby

Crosby is a 5'11", 200 lb. center from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. Already 27-years-old, it's hard to believe this is his 10th NHL season. He has led the league in points-per-game in four of the last five seasons, and is tops amongst active players at 1.37 points per contest. He was selected with the first overall pick in 2005.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

604

293

534

827

This Season

54

19

39

58

Last 10 played

10

4

3

7

vs. Florida

28

14

17

31

Assets: Sees the ice and anticipates the play exceptionally well. Can blow by defenders with electric quickness. Possesses a strong lower body and is an awesome passer. Leads by example. Is feisty and gritty. Wins face-offs. Is particularly strong on his backhand side, which is a rarity.
Flaws: Is somewhat prone to injuries, especially to his lower body (and now concussions), which is a direct result of his gung-ho approach to every game. Therefore, his concussion situation must be monitored for the rest of his career. Could stand to pace himself, but it's not his style.
Career Potential: Elite franchise center and all-around superstar.

39 - David Perron

Perron is a 5'11", 196 lb. winger from Sherbrooke, Quebec. The 26-year-old was picked in the first round of the 2007 draft by the St. Louis Blues with the 26th overall selection, and is now in his eighth NHL season with his third team.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

476

126

161

287

This Season

58

14

18

32

Last 10 played

10

3

1

4

vs. Florida

5

1

0

1

Assets: Is a great dangler with the puck and very creative. Can play on either side of center and excels in open space. Gritty and full of character, he's both a finisher and an excellent playmaker.
Flaws: Injuries are a problem here, including concussion issues. Must also continue to work on his positioning and defensive-zone coverage. Should shoot more. More strength would also serve him well.
Career Potential: Ultra-skilled scoring winger, when healthy.


Second Line

17 - Blake Comeau

Comeau, a 29-year-old from Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, is a 6', 195 lb. winger selected in the second round of the 2004 draft by the New York Islanders. Now with his fourth team, he's playing in his ninth NHL season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

459

84

102

186

This Season

37

12

10

22

Last 10 played

10

3

2

5

vs. Florida

21

2

4

6

Assets: Can be a streaky goal-scorer who can help carry his club for a while, thanks mainly to a very good shot and offensive know-how. Can also play either wing position. Owns good size.
Flaws: Must find a level of consistency in all facets of the game in order to continue to earn an NHL paycheck. Can disappear for stretches. Doesn't shoot enough and/or play as physical as he should.
Career Potential: Inconsistent scoring winger.

71 - Evgeni Malkin

Malkin, a 6'3", 195 lb. center, was Pittsburgh's first round pick in 2004, second overall. The 28-year-old native of Magnitogorsk, USSR is in his ninth NHL season. He was the league's MVP in 2012.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

571

262

424

686

This Season

53

22

32

54

Last 10 played

10

3

1

4

vs. Florida

27

8

19

27

Assets: Racks up points as well as anyone in the NHL when on his game. Has the ability to keep the puck on a string and sift through defenders. Is a monster talent that can play any forward position. Elevates his game when it matters most.
Flaws: Can struggle on face-offs. Isn't as dominant when he plays either wing position, since he is denied the puck more often along the wall. Takes bad penalties and is a little careless with the puck in the defensive zone.
Career Potential: Elite playmaker and scoring center.

72 - Patric Hornqvist

Hornqvist is a 6', 190 lb. winger from Sollentuna, Sweden. He was initially selected in the seventh round of the 2005 draft by the Nashville Predators. The 28-year-old is in his seventh NHL season, and his first with the Pens.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

408

121

128

249

This Season

45

15

18

33

Last 10 played

10

1

2

3

vs. Florida

10

3

1

4

Assets: Is shifty and capable of producing offense from either wing position. Can take a hit to make a play and isn't bad in his own end. Excels in front of the opposing goal and is disruptive. Scores garbage goals.
Flaws: Must prove capable of withstanding the constant pounding in front of the opposition goal over the long haul, since he's a somewhat undersized winger. Can rile up opponents too much with his antics.
Career Potential: Decent scoring winger.


Third Line

13 - Nick Spaling

Spaling, a six-year NHL veteran, is a 26-year-old from Palmerston, Ontario. A 6'1", 198 lb. center, he was Nashville's second round pick in 2007, and is also in his first year in Steeltown.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

355

49

57

106

This Season

58

9

13

22

Last 10 played

10

2

0

2

vs. Florida

7

2

2

4

Assets: Kills penalties and checks opponents with aplomb. Works hard in all three zones and at improving his overall game. Has a projectable frame, two-way instincts and scoring upside. Can play both center and wing.
Flaws: Lacks game-to-game consistency, especially on the offensive side of the ice. Needs to fill out and start using his 6-1 frame with greater frequency so as to maximize his NHL potential as a defensive stalwart.
Career Potential: Versatile two-way forward with a little upside.

16 - Brandon Sutter

Sutter, a 26-year-old out of Huntington, New York, is a 6'3", 183 lb., seven-year-veteran. He was initially chosen with the 11th overall pick in the 2007 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

471

88

85

173

This Season

56

11

10

21

Last 10 played

10

1

3

4

vs. Florida

29

0

3

3

Assets: Plays a mature game with two-way tendencies. Is a natural leader with a great frame to grow into for the National Hockey League. Plays with more grit and confidence with each coming season. Can shut down opposing centers. Will become more effective offensively as he gains further experience.
Flaws: Needs to become a little more confident in the offensive zone, and differ less to his linemates when on the attack. Must also continue filling out his lanky 6-3 frame in order to maximize his vast shutdown potential. Is a bit too timid in terms of laying on the body and playing with toughness.
Career Potential: Quality two-way center with a little upside.

19 - Beau Bennett

Bennett, a 23-year-old winger from Garden, California, is a 6'2", 207 lb. first round pick of the Penguins in 2010, 20th overall. He's played in three NHL seasons, although he has yet to appear in more than 26 games in any of them.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

72

9

22

31

This Season

25

3

7

10

Last 10 played

10

1

2

3

vs. Florida

4

0

4

4

Assets: Has very good instincts with the puck and plenty of playmaking ability from the wing. Can play on either side of center and also has a good shot.
Flaws: Needs to play with more of a sniper's mentality. Also needs to gain more strength to better handle the pro game. Lacks a bit of consistency, in general.
Career Potential: Talented winger with upside.


Fourth Line

27 - Craig Adams

Adams, Adams was a ninth-round-pick of the Hartford Whalers in 1996. A 6', 197 lb. 37-year-old winger from Seria, Brunei Darussalam, he's a 14-year veteran with his third NHL team. His five goals against the Panthers rank as his most against any team.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

934

55

104

159

This Season

53

1

5

6

Last 10 played

10

0

1

1

vs. Florida

54

5

6

11

Assets: Plays the body well. Is defensively aware and displays energy on every shift. Can be a shift disturber, kills penalties with aplomb and is versatile enough to play all three forward positions.
Flaws: Lacks the offensive skills needed to play a top-six role in the NHL. Will occasionally run into penalty trouble. Can go into prolonged scoring droughts that seemingly never end. Isn't much of a pugilist.
Career Potential: Veteran defensive energy forward.

40 - Maxim Lapierre

Lapierre, a second round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 2003, is a 6'2", 207 lb. St. Leonard, Quebec product. The 29-year-old pivot is in his 10th NHL season and playing for his fifth NHL team.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

590

65

73

138

This Season

56

2

8

10

Last 10 played

10

0

1

1

vs. Florida

18

4

1

5

Assets: Likes to stir the pot every shift and can get opponents off their game. Skates well. Is sound defensively and owns the versatility to play either center or wing.
Flaws: Tends to back down from physical challenges, and sometimes his on-ice antics backfire. Doesn't score enough to play a top-six role at the highest level.
Career Potential: Agitating, versatile forward.

23 - Steve Downie

Downie, a 27-year-old Newmarket, Ontario native, is a 5'11", 191 lb. winger. An eight-year veteran with his fourth NHL team, he was originally selected in the first round of the 2005 draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

388

69

116

185

This Season

52

10

13

23

Last 10 played

10

1

0

1

vs. Florida

19

3

7

10

Assets: Is extremely disruptive for the opposition. Hits like a truck and displays decent hockey sense with the puck. Has two-way ability and can complement skilled forwards rather nicely.
Flaws: His kamikaze style can lead to a lot of injuries, bad penalties and the occasional suspension. Needs to learn how to play more in control of his emotions, since he can get carried away.
Career Potential: Agitating complementary winger.


Defensemen

First Pairing

7 - Paul Martin

Martin is a 6'1", 200 lb. blueliner from Minneapolis, Minnesota. 33-years-old, he was a second round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2000. He's now in his 11th NHL season, and has been with Pittsburgh for the last five.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

673

42

224

266

This Season

50

2

12

14

Last 10 played

10

0

2

2

vs. Florida

31

2

9

11

Assets: Is very mobile and can log huge minutes, if necessary. Has good size can do a little bit of everything reasonably well. Is at his best within the confines of a strong defensive system, when he doesn't try to do too much.
Flaws: Doesn't play a physical game nearly enough and can also struggle against aggressive opponents. Is also not a natural power-play quarterback. Can wander a bit too much and get caught up ice. His game is in decline, overall.
Career Potential: Mobile veteran defenseman.

58 - Kris Letang

Letang is a 6' 201 lb. defender from Montreal, Quebec. The 27-year-old was selected by the Penguins in the third round back in 2005, and is now in his ninth NHL season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

474

65

211

276

This Season

52

10

35

45

Last 10 played

10

1

7

8

vs. Florida

24

4

8

12

Assets: Is a silky smooth skater with tremendous lateral movement and acceleration. Can pinch in effectively, or roam around like a fourth forward. Owns a lot of creativity and goal-scorers' hands. Also owns leadership qualities and solid hitting skills.
Flaws: Is a little undersized for the blueline position in the NHL, so he struggles on occasion against bigger forwards in front of his own net. Must limit his mistakes in the defensive zone in order to maximize his vast all-around potential.
Career Potential: Outstanding offensive defenseman.


Second Pairing

4 - Rob Scuderi

Scuderi is a 6'1", 219 lb. defenseman from Syosset, New York. Now 36-years-old, the former fifth round pick (in 1998) is now in his 11th season. He played his first five seasons with the Pens, joined the Los Angeles Kings for four, then rejoined Pittsburgh last season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

696

7

91

98

This Season

58

0

8

8

Last 10 played

10

0

3

3

vs. Florida

23

0

1

1

Assets: Keeps the game simple on most nights and has exemplary team skills. Blocks shots and is most effective in penalty-killing situations. Can shut forwards down.
Flaws: Doesn't own ideal puck-moving skills for the blueline position and has limited talent, overall. Struggles when handling the puck, especially when he plays on the right side.
Career Potential: Savvy veteran defensive defenseman.

47 - Simon Despres

Despres is a 23-year-old, 6'4", 214 lb. blueliner from Laval, Quebec. He was selected by the Pens in the first round in 2009, and is now in his fourth season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

140

5

27

32

This Season

55

2

14

16

Last 10 played

10

1

3

4

vs. Florida

6

0

3

3

Assets: Has great size and poise with the puck. Moves the disc with aplomb, is very mobile and efficient overall. Also displays flashes of offensive acumen. Is capable of logging huge minutes if required.
Flaws: Doesn't have enough of a mean streak yet to make a physical impact at the highest level. Isn't a natural power-play quarterback, either. Can get into trouble when he doesn't trust his instincts.
Career Potential: All-around defenseman with good upside.


Third Pairing

51 - Derrick Pouliot

Pouliot is a 6'3", 199 lb. defender from Alfred, Ontario. The 28-year-old former fourth overall pick was selected by the Minnesota Wild in 2005. He's now in his ninth NHL season with his sixth NHL team.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

408

87

91

178

This Season

37

11

7

18

Last 10 played

10

1

2

3

vs. Florida

22

8

7

15

Assets: Is a very good skater. Also displays a very aggressive nature, which serves him well in both offensive and defensive situations. Can be an effective asset with the man advantage.
Flaws: Needs to become much stronger, since he's undersized by NHL standards. Also, he must continue to work on his defensive-zone coverage in order to maximize his good upside.
Career Potential: Mobile offensive defenseman with good upside.

41 - Robert Bortuzzo

Bortuzzo is a 6'4", 215 lb. defenseman from Thunder Bay, Ontario. The 25-year-old was chosen by the Penguins in the third round in 2007, and is in his fourth season with the club.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

110

4

16

20

This Season

35

2

4

6

Last 10 played

10

0

0

0

vs. Florida

2

0

0

0

Assets: Is a physical, defensive-minded rearguard who isn't shy about making his presence felt. Also keeps his game simple and relatively mistake-free.
Flaws: Doesn't have a lot of scoring upside for the highest level, so he will need to be more consistently physical in order to make his mark on the NHL.
Career Potential: Physical defenseman with a little upside.


Goaltenders

Probable Starter

29 - Marc-Andre Fleury

Fleury, a 30-year-old backstop, is a 6'2", 180 lb. product of Sorel, Quebec. The first overall pick in 2003 is in his 11th season with the Pens, and has played in two all star games.

Games

W

L

OTL

SV%

GAA

SO

Career

577

314

182

52

0.911

2.58

36

This Season

46

26

13

6

0.924

2.18

8

Last 10 played

10

4

4

2

0.935

1.68

2

vs. Florida

22

12

8

2

0.917

2.55

1

Assets: Has outstanding quickness and lateral mobility. An aggressive butterfly-style goalie, he's capable of making highlight-reel saves look routine. Has proven to be able to lead a team deep in the playoffs, and make clutch saves.
Flaws: Has lapses in concentration and focus from time to time, which leads to bouts of wild inconsistency. Will over-commit when moving laterally, so he can at times lose his net. Doesn't always handle the puck and/or pass it with aplomb.
Career Potential: Supremely talented, yet somewhat inconsistent goaltender.


Probable Backup

1 - Thomas Griess

Griess is a 6'1", 215 lb. native of Straubing, Germany. The 29-year old, six-year NHL veteran is with his third team. He was initially selected in the third round of the 2004 draft by the San Jose Sharks.

Games

W

L

OTL

SV%

GAA

SO

Career

82

33

27

11

0.913

2.51

3

This Season

13

6

3

3

0.906

2.88

0

Last 10 played

10

4

4

2

0.896

3.21

0

vs. Florida

2

0

1

1

0.873

3.91

0

Assets: Has excellent puck-stopping ability, as well as the ideal demeanor for the goaltending position. Honed his craft well in Europe, and has usually put up very good numbers at lower levels.
Flaws: Is still trying to prove he can handle a big workload in the National Hockey League (and the jury is still out at this point). Needs to avoid giving up bad goals at the wrong time.
Career Potential: Solid goaltender with a little upside.

Special thanks to www.sportsforecaster.com for the expert scouting reports. Stats were all provided by www.hockey-reference.com, and lineups were culled from www.goaliepost.com and www2.dailyfaceoff.com. Tune in for the game tonight as the Panthers try to claim their third win in four games on the road.