Saturday, April 25, 2009

TOP 10 PENS PLAYERS of the 07-08 SEASON by Urban

*Posted June 5, 2008*

It was a great year for the Pens. Some very key players were left out.Honorable mentions go out to Max Talbot, Pascal Dupois, Gary Roberts, Rob Scuderi, and Ty Conklin.


With the addition of Marion Hossa at the trade deadline, some people forgot what a valuable pick-up Sykora was in the off-season.28 goals and 35 assists for the 31 year old shooting sniper on the Malkin line that was consistently the best line for the Penguins all season.Even though he scored the triple overtime goal against Detroit, he kind of faded throughout the playoffs, or Pierre McGuire may be right that he was hurt.Either way, he has definitely been a top-ten Pen for the 2007-08 season.

Way to go Ray Shero.In your Craig Patrickesque way, you not only added one of the best wingers in the world in Hossa, but also solidified the blue line with Hal Gill at the trade deadline .A mammoth of a man instantly made a group of good defenseman into a championship caliber defense.He also went head to head with Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom, even injuring the Swede and sidelining him for Game 4 of the Finals.

Some people, not mentioning any names, do not like Staal.He is a 19 year old who is an excellent defensive forward, phenomenal penalty killer, and can even score goals.He will only get better, but was still an integral part of the Penguins great year.Like Sykora, kind of disappeared in the playoffs, but the things he can do on defense and the centering of the third line make his inclusion on this list a must.


The trade deadline prize.The Penguins got him and Pascal Dupois for Colby “Fair weather fans love me, but I really suck” Armstrong and Erik “I am so good at shootouts, but I will only probably only score 2-3 real goals a year” Christensen. Hossa basically did nothing in the regular season with the Penguins but certainly bloomed in the playoffs with 11 goals and 13 assists.The zenith was the highlight reel wrist shot goal against the Flyers, and he had a very strong Stanley Cup Final.A very solid back-checker and an immensely talented player, but it is very unlikely that he will be back with the Penguins next year.


So underrated.In the physical playoffs, Orpik, in my opinion, was the most physical Penguin, and he also played some pretty good defense.He certainly was the most consistent banger throughout the year.Gary Roberts was hurt for most of the season, and Georges Laraque was a healthy scratch against Detroit.Orpik and Ryan Malone are the two Penguins that come to mind that have dealt with the recent struggles for the Penguin organization but have reaped the current successes as well.It has become known that Orpik and Michel Therrien do not get along real well.In an off-season that will probably see the Penguins losing some key players, here is hoping that they hold onto Orpik.

Another holdover from the bad years.Malone can kill penalties like Staal, backcheck like Hossa, and has a knack for scoring some big goals, the game 2 wrap around winner against Ottawa comes to mind.He also light the lamp 27 times in the regular season.The broken nose may become legendary.Already broken from Game 1 against Detroit, getting nailed again in game 5, having Pierre McGuire say that Malone is in trouble, and before you knew it being back on the ice.Malone needs to be resigned, perhaps even at the expense of losing Hossa.


I will be the first to admit that I was wrong about Fleury.I never really thought that he was all that great until these playoffs.Game 5 and his 55 saves will become part of Penguins lore, as well as that toe save in the third period.So, you might ask, if he was the Penguin playoff MVP, which I think he deserves, why is he not higher on this list?Ty Conklin had a magical run mid-season for the Pens when the Flower was hurt and remains a very capable backup.The slack can be picked up if Fleury goes down, the same can probably not be said for the top 3 on this list.Even with that, Fleury was nothing short of amazing in the playoffs and should be the Penguins net minder for the next decade.


A lot of people know that I am not the biggest Crosby fan.He is such a great passer, well so is Malkin.He backchecks so well, well so does Hossa.He is such a great “leader,” well who cares.His political correctness sickens me on a Peyton Manning type level.Even so, Crosby missed a large portion of year.It was a portion of the year in which the Pens improved, without Crosby.He is still the captain, still the future, but for 2007-08, he was the third most important Penguin.

As little as two years ago, Gonchar was considered a joke, an aging defenseman who was way past his prime.Today, he is the leader of the Pens defense and one of the better offense defenseman in the NHL.He had 53 assists this year.What was the engine that ran the Pens machine?The power play, in which Gonchar was the leader.In the epic Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, it was Gonchar who came back from a nasty injury to lead the Power Play and the Penguins to victory.Experts talk about the great youngsters and often dismiss the older players like Gonchar that have been essential to the Penguins success during the season.


As I write this, everybody is complaining about Malkin’s lack of stellar play against Detroit.Since the hit he took from Brad Richards in the Eastern Conference Finals, he was not the same player.If all can agree upon that, than we can chalk his play up to injury.Let’s look at the regular season.47 goals and 59 assists and essentially picked up his game after the Crosby injury.9 playoff goals and before the Stanley Cup finals the debate was between him and Fluery over who was more valuable to the team in the playoffs.I remember watching the 2006 Winter Olympics in which commentators were saying that Malkin was the best Russian on the squad.A Russian team that included Alexander Ovechkin and Alexei Kovalev.Let’s face it Penguin fans, at his best, Malkin is Sidney Crosby with a slap shot.He has performed at a top-flight level this entire year minus the Detroit series in which he was probably injured.He centers the 2nd line, but in my opinion he is better than Crosby, better than Ovechkin, and is the best player in the NHL.He is the main reason why the Penguins had so much success this year and should be the front offices top priority in the future.

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