March Grades: Forwards

Thursday, March 31, 2011
Keven Veilleux had easily his best month of hockey as a professional. His team leading 10 assists in March have fans excited about finally seeing a healthy Veilleux be consistent on a nightly basis.

The forward core remained mostly intact this month with the only regular out of the lineup being Joe Vitale. Vitale has missed the last seven games with an upper body injury and his status remains day-to-day. The teams don't release much info on injuries these days. The team is hoping he can get to 100% for the playoffs.

Now for the forward of the month. Bryan Lerg scored the game winning goal shorthanded in overtime to... oh yeah clinch the East Division on Sunday. He played 14 games and recorded 11 points, six of those points came on the power play. Keven Veilleux was a close second place but Lerg's important goals can't be overlooked.

Bryan Lerg - Grade: A
Season Stats: 60 games played, 13G, 16A, +14, 15 PIM
March Stats: 14 games played, 4G, 7A, +4, 2 PIM

Lerg had his best month of the season in March. He came off an injury and worked hard on a line with Chris Collins and Ben Street for most of the month. That 2nd line was very effective towards the end of the month. lerg has come a long way this season, from being added on the team with a PTO to now earning his regular spot in the lineup.

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The rest of the forwards after the jump

Zach Sill - Grade: A-
Season Stats: 74 games played, 10G, 15A, +13, 78 PIM
March Stats: 14 games played, 4G, 4A, +4, 16 PIM

Zach Sill is a very easy player to root for. He works hard every night, killing penalties and being physical. This month he was given a larger role and he exceeded expectations, scoring four goals and really looking confident with the puck on his stick. It's a great thing to reward this hardworking player and it was nice to see his offensive stats get a boost.

Brett Sterling - Grade: B+
Season Stats: 62 games played, 25G, 25A, +10, 86 PIM
March Stats: 14 games played, 5G, 4A, -2 , 18 PIM

Brett Sterling had a rough start to the month, missing the net on chances or hitting the posts. He got back to scoring big goals later in the month but his inconsistency and unnecessary penalties are a question mark going forward. He needs to stick to his game and be the go-to-guy in the playoffs.

Chris Collins - Grade: B+
Season Stats: 71 games played, 12G, 20A, +21, 41 PIM
March Stats: 14 games played, 2G, 4A, +3, 8 PIM

Collins had another solid month playing good two way hockey. He appeared on the score sheet often and killed penalties in crucial moments of the game. Collins is also one of the toughest guys on the team, in my opinion. He's one of the smaller guys on the ice but he doesn't let it hold him back from playing his game.

Geoff Walker - Grade: A-
Season Stats: 66 games played, 8G, 17A, +14, 102 PIM
March Stats: 14 games played, 3G, 6A, +6, 13 PIM

Walker along with line mates Keven Veilleux and Ryan Craig were awesome in their trip to western Canada earlier this month. Walker, when given more ice time, has stepped up his offensive production while continuing to be physical. I look forward to seeing what he can do the rest of the way.

Jesse Boulerice - Grade: C
Season Stats: 61 games played, 4G, 6A, -11, 140 PIM
March Stats: 14 games played, 0G, 1A, -2, 38 PIM

Boulerice played in all the team's games this month but with the addition of Paul Thompson and David Marshall playing well, Boulerice needs to get back to his game, being physical and aggressive on the fore check and play responsibly in the defensive zone.  He took a lot of penalties this month and while some are expected, Boulerice is spending a little too much time in the box and his minus rating isn't helping things along either

Ryan Craig - Grade: A
Season Stats: 66 games played, 19G, 27A, +5, 73 PIM
March Stats: 14 games played, 5G, 6A, -1, 6 PIM

Craig continues to be a leader on and off the ice. Another great month offensively from the top line center, tied with the team lead in March with 11 points. Craig is going to need to continue at this rate in the playoffs if he wants to be the first Penguins captain to raise the Calder Cup.

Tim Wallace - Grade: B+
Season Stats: 62 games played, 20G, 17A, +8, 61 PIM
March Stats: 14 games played, 4G, 1A, +1, 17 PIM

Wallace continues to bang bodies on the team's top line and create space for his line mates, namely Brett Sterling. He appeared in his 300th AHL game, all with the WBS Penguins, this month as well.  Wallace needs to continue to play physical and finish off some plays for timely goals down the stretch.

David Marshall - Grade: C+
Season Stats: 38 total games played, 4G, 2A, -5, 25 PIM
March Stats: 9 games played, 0G, 0A, -1 2 PIM

Marshall has spent all of his time in lineup on the fourth line. He hasn't been overly impressive but he hasn't made too many costly mistakes or penalties that keeps him out of the lineup.  He needs to finish strong if he wants to play in the playoffs.

Nick Petersen - Grade: B
Season Stats: 17 games played, 1G, 3A, +2, 4 PIM
March Stats: 11 games played, 1G, 1A, +1, 2 PIM

Nick Petersen is going to be a very good hockey player. I loved what I saw from Petersen in the AHL Penguins preseason games and his highlight reel Crosby-like spin move for his first career AHL goal. Here's the highlight reel goal. Check out the first 16 seconds to see the Petersen goal.

Ben Street - Grade: A-
Season Stats: 30 games played, 12G, 7A, +8, 6 PIM
March Stats: 14 games played, 3G, 4A, +3, 2 PIM

Street has continued to impress in his second full month in the AHL. Street was recently named to the ECHL's all-rookie team, and has continued his offensive production at the next level. Look for Street to be a hero in the playoffs.

Keven Veilleux - Grade: A
Season Stats: 62 games played, 9G, 22A, +16, 112 PIM
March Stats: 14 games played, 1G, 10A, +7, 20 PIM

Veilleux had his best month of hockey in March. He was tied for the most points in March with 11, his 10 helpers led the team in assists and his +7 rating also led the team. He also got the team some energy from fighting and he has been a beast this year in that department. If he can stay healthy watch out! This big forward is tough to knock off the puck and has the nicest set of hands I've ever seen from a big guy.

Joe Vitale & Paul Thompson - Incomplete
Vitale missed the second half of the month with an upper body injury and hasn't returned yet. Paul Thompson was recently signed to an ATO and will wear #10 the rest of the season for the Penguins.


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