|Is Brad Thiessen still the #1 goalie right now?|
The depth of the defense has been tested and guys like Alex Grant, Philip Samuelsson and Cody Wild who were probably penciled in for ECHL duty at the beginning of the season have been regular AHL defenders so far this season. The Penguins even needed to dip into the ECHL when the injuries mounted, adding Dan Henningson (Chicago Express) and Peter Merth (Wheeling) for a few games.
But the biggest question mark I have defensively is goaltending, which was very inconsistent in December to say the least. Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that there would be any debate at all with who the number one goalie on this team is. But after the last month, the competition between Brad Thiessen and Scott Munroe has certainly picked up and I believe Munroe has earned the starts he has been getting.
Grades for the defensemen and goalies after the jump.
Season Stats: 22 games played, (11-8-2), 2.71 GAA, .889 SV%, 2 SO
December Stats: 5 games played (2-3), 3.56 GAA, .844 SV%, 0 SO
A tough month for last year's AHL Goalie of the Year. Sure the injuries and call ups to the defensive core probably had something to do with the decline in stats this month but the Penguins need a better performance from their #1 goalie.
Season Stats: 15 games played, (7-3-2), 2.44 GAA, .909 SV%, 3 SO
December Stats: 7 games played, (5-1), 2.39 GAA, .915 SV%, 1 SO
Munroe is arguably the go-to guy in net right now, winning five of his last six starts. I think the Penguins should ride the hot hand into 2012.
Season Stats: 19 games played, 0G, 9A, +9, 23 PIM
December Stats: 11 games played, 0G, 8A, +5, 21 PIM
Grant really came out of nowhere this month and stepped up big time while most of the regulars were out of the WBS lineup. A great month for Grant, and you can see the confidence he has started to build playing regular minutes and getting extended looks on the power play.
Season Stats: 30 games played, 0G, 9A, +5, 19 PIM
December Stats: 9 games played, 0G, 2A, Even, 4 PIM
Carl Sneep had an up and down kind of month. He made his NHL debut this month and after his return from Pittsburgh hasn't really produced much offensively. Grant has the same stat line as Sneep with 11 less games played.
Season Stats: 30 games played, 1G, 6A, +7, 14 PIM
December Stats: 11 games played, 0G, 2A, -1, 6 PIM
Samuelsson also had an increased role on the WBS blue line this month, and the rookie continues to grow. Sure he still makes mistakes but it's part of the process. I think he's above the learning curve.
Season Stats: 5 games played, 0G, 1A, +2, 2 PIM
December Stats: 5 games played, 0G, 1A, +2, 2 PIM
Hennginson was loaned to the WBS Penguins from the ECHL's Chicago Express when the Pens were in dire need of a healthy defenseman. He wasn't flashy by any means but I thought he filled in quite well in the middle of December, given the situation.
Season Stats: 6 games played, 0G, 1A, +4, 13 PIM
December Stats: 6 games played, 0G, 1A, +4, 13 PIM
Merth was another ECHL callup (from Wheeling) who stepped up his game and has played pretty well as the 6th defenseman for the WBS Penguins this past month. Not offensively gifted but a physical stay at home type that is getting his first look at the AHL level.
Season Stats: 23 games played, 0G, 2A, +4, 14 PIM
December Stats: 11 games played, 0G, 1A, +2, 8 PIM
Wild continues to work on his game and the effort is paying off. He seems a little more confident in his decisions with the puck and I really like his attitude at practices, games, etc. Would like to see more from him but his days in WBS may be limited with healthy bodies returning from Pittsburgh
Season Stats: 15 games played, 1G, 7A, +9, 12 PIM
December Stats: 3 games played, 0G, 3A, Even, 0 PIM
Picard spent most of the month in Pittsburgh, playing only the first two games of the month as well as the last game of the month. Hopefully the injury bug in Pittsburgh will calm down and Picard will get more playing time in WBS.
Season Stats: 9 games played, 1G, 4A, +6, 4 PIM
December Stats: 4 games played, 0G, 1A, Even, 4 PIM
A call up to Pittsburgh and an elbow injury have kept Strait's time in the WBS lineup brief so far this season but with Strait and the rest of the organization getting healthy, it's only a matter of time before Strait is paired back up with Robert Bortuzzo.
Season Stats: 25 games played, 3G, 1A, -4, 39 PIM
December Stats: 3 games played, 1G, 0A, -2, 4 PIM
Mormina hasn't played since December 7th when he took a high dirty hit from Binghamton's Corey Cowick as the final seconds ticked off in a Penguins victory. Mormina hasn't even begun skating yet the last time I checked. Hope the big guy can get healthy and get back into the swing of things
Season Stats: 3 games played, 0G, 0A, -4, 7 PIM
December Stats: 3 games played, 0G, 0A, -4, 7 PIM
Valabik made his WBS debut in December but it was short lived as he got smacked in the hand with an errant stick in just his third game of the season. Bad luck with injuries so far for big Boris.