Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Mating Game: The Search for Sid's Perfect Match

Welcome to The Mating Game:

Sponsored by:
Tonights game features a Mr. Sidney Crosby, Center and Captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins:
Sidney has already won every major scoring award and championship in professional hockey and is unanimously regarded as the best player in hockey. However, after a long layoff Sid is looking for a new winger to tap in some gimmies after his former line-mate ran away with another man.

Well, let's get this underway folks, time to meet our contestants:

Possible Linemate Number 1:
What are your best qualities?
PL1: Being a well rounded forward who is capable of playing both sides of the puck, who has a history of 20+ goal seasons.

Center/Winger- Jordan Staal

The story: Last year, Jordan was thrust into the role of a top-line center right off of an injury and it showed.  While, he did some impressive things he was eventually replaced with Letestu on the first line.  This season, however, he has had somewhat of a re-emergence in a second line role behind Evgeni Malkin.  Staalsy is having a fantastic season with 21 Goals in 45 Games even after missing 5 weeks this season with a knee injury.

The good: Staal has shown an improved shot this season and is on a career-best pace for goals.  He has also proved thus far this season that he can be a top-6 goal scorer.  Along with the emergence of Joe Vitale and Richard Park, the 3rd and 4th line center positions would have adequate fillers.  Staal would be able to help fill in the size that was lost on Sid's wing with the departure of Chris Kunitz.

The bad: The possibility of Jordan Staal: Stone Hands re-emergence.  There is nothing more frustrating than when Staal fires a puck completely wide of the net when in a prime scoring area.  Fans had become accustomed to this over his career, but it seems he has solved that problem this year.

Possible Linemate Number 2:
What car would best describe you?
PL2: A 1961 Jaguar E-Coupe, a vintage sports car with speed left to burn.

Winger- Steve Sullivan

The story: An early season whipping boy for many fans who were still bitter about #jagrwatch, Steve Sullivan has more than lived up to his billing of 1.5 million this season.  He has helped transform a power-play that was ranked 25th last year (15.8%), into one of the NHL's top 5 power-play (20.1%).  And while some would be willing to attribute that to the Penguins spending the last months of last season without their top 2 offensive players.  It was painfully obviously that even with Geno and Sid, the power-play was not performing as it should with two of the top players in the world.

The good: Sully has the skill and speed to keep up with Sid when he's at 100%, and has the ability to cash in on open space.  While his shot still isn't what it used to be, he has shown this year that he has sufficient talent to still perform in a scoring role.  He is on pace for 16 Goals and 30 Assists in 81 games, and is one of the hottest Penguins right now with 8 points in his last 5 games.  Sully has also been uncharacteristically healthy this season. (knock on wood)

The bad: Steve Sullivan has looked much better since being moved off Evgeni Malkin's line earlier in the season.  However, that raises questions of his ability to perform for long stretches on a top line.  That, coupled with the grind of playing a projected 81 games over this season, I would be concerned with his stamina through the playoffs.

Possible Linemate Number 3:
If you had to use one word to describe your playing style what would it be?
PL3: Shoot-first.

Winger-Tyler Kennedy

The story: TK has taken a lot of flack this season for not performing as a top-6 winger, while some of the criticism is deserved, some is not due to his injury riddled season.  It's fair to say that TK's strongest attribute is his willingness to throw the puck to the net, and his ability to get it there.

The good: TK's willingness to shoot and get the puck through would help Sid by creating rebounds that Sid could bang in, and Sid would be able to open up space for TK to hopefully get back to 20 goal form.

The bad: Most would be willing to agree that TK is a 3rd liner, and he is good in that role.  While, he did vastly out-perform his 3rd line role last season, it's not something he will be capable of doing season after season.

Sid's Choice:
J. Staal helps provide Sid with the size needed to replace the Koon.  He has also established himself as more than a 3rd line center and he has established himself as a top-6 finisher this season.  While, not only being a threat for Sid, Staal also has experience with Pascal Dupuis.  His chemistry with Dupuis, and Dupuis' chemistry with Sid should provide for a fantastic 2nd scoring line.

(this prediction is based off the idea that the 1st line stays together, and Dupuis is on Sid's other wing)

Let the games begin.

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