Grading The "Stretch Run" 4/17

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The regular season has ended. The Penguins finish the season after 76 games with a record of 44-25-2-5, good for 95 points, 2nd in the East Division and the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference.

Highland Park Hockey's end of the season "Stretch Run" award goes to......

The "Prostitution line" of Nick Petersen, Ben Street and Geoff Walker. I know it's usually one player for the monthly award but these three guys couldn't have done it by themselves. This line just dominated opponents down the stretch so I chose all three. Sue me!

Grades for every player on the roster down the stretch, after the jump.


LW Nick Petersen - Grade: A-
Season Stats: 49 games played, 11G, 16A, +16, 23 PIM 
Stretch Run: 19 games played, 3G, 8A, +7, 8 PIM

It appears all Petersen needed was to be re-united with Ben Street. In 21 games since returning from an injury and demotion to the ECHL, "Petey" has put together 15 points (5G-10A). 

C Ben Street - Grade: A

Season Stats: 71 games played, 27G, 30A, +14, 24 PIM
Stretch Run: 18 games played, 9G, 8A, +3, 2 PIM

Street had back to back two goal games early in the month of March and added another two goal performance in mid-March. Probably the go-to goal scorer in the WBS lineup.

RW Geoff Walker - Grade: A-
Season Stats: 68 games played, 18G, 26A, +6, 114 PIM
Stretch Run: 18 games played, 3G, 9A, +5, 31 PIM

Walker is the guy on the "Prostitution Line" that goes to the dirty areas of the ice (no pun intended). He has also appeared to regain his scoring touch, as he scored goals in back to back nights in April.

LW Bryan Lerg - Grade: B+
Season Stats: 70 games played, 27G, 26A, +6, 32 PIM
Stretch Run: 14 games played, 5G, 4A, Even, 6 PIM

Seems like Lerg stats were affected by a little less playing time and while not a lesser role, the consistency is certainly an issue. Good news is he finished the season with a five game point scoring streak.

C Cal O'Reilly - Grade: B
Season Stats (combined): 26 games played, 1G, 11A, +3, 8 PIM
Stretch Run: 19 games played, 0G, 10A, -1, 6 PIM

O'Reilly hasn't scored a goal with the Penguins this season, but I still think it's only a matter of time before he gets one or more in the playoffs. Sure he has a pass-first mentality, and is a play making center, but he has had chances to score goals lately and has been just off.

RW Paul Thompson - Grade: C+
Season Stats: 67 games played, 10G, 15A, -1, 37 PIM
Stretch Run: 19 games played, 2G, 3A, -6, 11 PIM

Not a good March for Thompson with only two points in 13 games. But since being on a line with O'Reilly and Lerg, Thompson has been playing much better.

LW Colin McDonald - Grade: B-
Season Stats: 68 games played, 14G, 35A, +12, 41 PIM
Stretch Run: 18 games played, 2G, 4A, -2, 23 PIM

The 42 goal scoring leader in the AHL last season finishes with only 14 this year, but it doesn't mean McDonald can't score. In fact, it was good to see McDonald score a goal in the home finale on Saturday night. Hope that lights the fire for more goals to come!

C Brian Gibbons - Grade: C+
Season Stats: 70 games played, 11G, 19A, +4, 26 PIM
Stretch Run: 17 games played, 2G, 3A, Even, 12 PIM

Gibbons has the speed to create offense and draw penalties. He needs to work on his consistency but has shown flashes of great play in his rookie season down the stretch.

RW Jason Williams - Grade: B
Season Stats: 59 games played, 13G, 29A, +2, 32 PIM
Stretch Run: 15 games played, 3G, 4A, -1, 10 PIM

Williams has picked up his scoring touch at the end of the season with three goals and three assists in his last seven games. Pens need him to contribute in the playoffs.

LW Brandon DeFazio - Grade: B
Season Stats: 66 games played, 11G, 5A, +2, 104 PIM
Stretch Run: 15 games played, 3G, 0A, +1, 25 PIM

DeFazio is becoming a solid checking/grinding type forward that is defensively responsible and can show some offense on occasion. Will probably end up on the defensive shut down line in the playoffs, playing against other teams' best scorers.

C Zach Sill - Grade: B
Season Stats: 68 games played, 10G, 7A, -1, 40 PIM
Stretch Run: 18 games played, 0G, 4A, +2, 5 PIM

Sill has been a solid defensive center all season long. He kills penalties, works hard and is physical on the forecheck. Hope Hershey's best are ready to be crunched into the boards by him.

RW Ryan Craig - Grade: B
Season Stats: 66 games played, 10G, 19A, -8, 70 PIM
Strech Run: 18 games played, 4G, 5A, -3, 6 PIM

Captain Craig finished the regular season strong with all nine points coming in the last 14 games. Great leader and needs to lead by example in the postseason with good effort and intensity.

F Steve MacIntyre - Grade: C+
Season Stats: 24 games played, 1G, 0A, -3, 59 PIM
Stretch Run: 8 games played, 1G, 0A, Even, 21 PIM

Will be most remembered for this incident in Springfield. But MacIntyre has played much better since that rampage, playing smart hockey while still being a sheriff on the ice and being that physical presence the Pens seemed to be missing at times this season.

Adam Payerl, Chris Barton, Matt Rust - Grade: Incomplete

These Black Aces got some game action in this weekend against Bridgeport with everything already locked up in terms of playoff positioning. Payerl impressed me a little with his size and speed for being a 6-3, 215 pound forward.


Brian Strait - Grade: A-
Season Stats: 41 games played, 4G, 12A, +7, 26 PIM
Stretch Run: 8 games played, 1G, 3A, +4, 8 PIM

Currently in Pittsburgh but will be sent back to Wilkes-Barre when the NHL Penguins are eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which could be as soon as Wednesday when they face the Flyers in Game 4. Back to Strait, he's reliable in his own zone and will be matched up against opposing teams top players.

Robert Bortuzzo - Grade: B
Season Stats: 51 games played, 3G, 9A, +9, 61 PIM
Stretch Run: 18 games played, 0G, 2A, +5, 22 PIM

Relied on heavily in the defensive zone down the stretch, and power play time diminishing with Picard, Despres and Grant better offensive options. Paired with Strait, Bortuzzo will also be on the shutdown pair for the playoffs.

Alexandre Picard - Grade:  B+
Season Stats: 43 games played, 8G, 13A, +10, 20 PIM
Stretch Run: 18 games played, 4G, 4A, +1, 4 PIM

The offensive minded Picard tallied a hat trick in March, and can be dangerous on the power play at times.  Defensively, he's usually reliable but has been caught up ice or at the end of a long shift on occasion.

Joey Mormina - Grade: B-
Season Stats: 59 games played, 6G, 15A, -11, 70 PIM
Stretch Run: 14 games played, 0G, 3A, -4, 17 PIM

If you would have told me in October that Mormina would match Picard's offensive points total, I wouldn't have agreed. The offensive flare seems to have faded off now that power play time is all but over, but needs to get back to being reliable defensively where he has been earlier in the season.

Simon Despres - Grade: B+
Season Stats: games played, 5G, 10A, -5, 45 PIM
Stretch Run: 15 games played, 2G, 6A, -3, 13 PIM

Despres has the offensive talent to produce offense and has a good wrist shot from the point. He needs to be a little better defensively but will these playoffs will be good for him in terms of valuable playoff experience.

Alex Grant - Grade: B
Season Stats: 61 games played, 10G, 27A, +5, 73 PIM
Stretch Run: 18 games played, 4G, 4A, -5, 21 PIM

Grant is the team's most dangerous offensive defenseman in my opinion. This his rookie season, Grant matched former Penguins defensemen Alex Goligoski's rookie scoring in nine less games played (Grant = 37 points in 61 games to Goligoski's 38 points in 70 games in his rookie season with WBS) Needs work defensively but if he can be solid in his own zone? Look out. Needs to be re-signed by the Penguins after the season!

Cody Wild - Grade: C+
Season Stats: 51 games played, 1G, 5A, +8, 34 PIM
Stretch Run: 9 games played, 1G, 0A, +2, 6 PIM

More defensively reliable than Samuelsson and why I have him as the team's 7th defensemen. Got his first and only goal of the season at the end of March, but I'm fine with him at D6 for the start of the postseason if Strait is still with Pittsburgh this weekend.

Philip Samuelsson - Grade: C
Season Stats: 46 games played, 1G, 8A, +4, 26 PIM
Stretch Run: 5 games played, 0G, 1A, +1, 6 PIM

If not for injuries and call ups this season, might have been a mainstay in the ECHL. Still has to develop more and work on his overall game. Got caught taking some penalties in the few games he did appear in down the stretch.

Peter Merth, Andrew Hotham - Incomplete

The Penguins were 9-2 with Merth in the lineup, an interesting stat noted by many. Hotham never got a a real chance with WBS because he was injured when most of the defensmen up top were out.


Brad Thiessen - Grade: B
Season Stats: 41 games played, 23W-15L-2SOL, 2 SO
Stretch Run: 4 games played, 3W-1L, 2.28 GAA, .904 SV%, 0 SO

Shaky in Pittsburgh in a short span, but looks to be getting back to being a quality AHL goalie. Certainly didn't overly impress anyone this season but expectations were high for last year's goalie of the year. Hope he can lead the team to the Finals in June!

Scott Munroe - Grade: B+
Season Stats: 38 games played, 19W-10L-3SOL, 2.52 GAA, .907 SV%, 5 SO
Stretch Run: 13 games played, 7W-6L, 2.11 GAA, .921 SV%, 2 SO

Munroe carried the load in net down the stretch and makes it a tougher decision for coach Hynes on who to start in Game 1 on Friday.

Patrick Killeen - Grade: C+
Season Stats: 5 games played, 2W-2L, 2.93 GAA, .871 SV%, 0 SO
Stretch Run: 3 games played, 2W-0L, 2.84 GAA .879 SV%, 0 SO

Could be the backup in Wilkes-Barre next season. Picked up two wins against Springfield this season, his first in the AHL.


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