Let's Go Pens… For Player of the Month!
The Pittsburgh Penguins continue their strong play, and it looks like they just might have some big time recognition, at least one individual might.
Going into tonights game against the Caps, Milan Kraft (5+10), Aleksey Morozov(6+9), and Dick Tarnstrom (4+11) all have 15 points in the month of March. These three guys are primarily the reason that the Penguins have gone 8-3-3 in the month of March and 10-4-3 in their last 17, and they are definitley the reason that the Pens have been close to making the biggest turnaround in history with regards to PP % (throw in Ric Jackman also). The Pens have scored a PP goal in 13 straight games and have had the best PP % of the month and since Dec 2. Back on the second of December, the Penguins ranked dead last in the league, and they have gotten as high as 6th since that time. They currently sit in 7th clicking at around 19%
When you look around the league, no one has had such a strong month as a team, and few have had more points individually than these three guys. Ilya Kovalchuk and Scott Walker each also have 15 points, and Joe Sakic heads everyone with 18. Considering the impact that these three guys have had on the Pens, I find it hard to give a player of the month award to Sakic when the Avs will have come away with such a poor March record. Morozov stands with the best chance going into tonight. He had back to back OT GW this month, and 3 GW for the whole month. Kraft has quiety risen to 4th on the team in points and is finally showing the offensive abilities we all knew he had on a consistent basis. Most of his assists are first assists, and even one of the three that is not was a great individual effort that made the goal happen. Tarnstrom has climbed to third in Dman point standings and was just one back of Gonchar at one point. He has astounding powerplay numbers, leading all Dmen in PP goals, assists, and points.
I am very torn as I sit here writing this. The Penguins play the Caps tonight, and I would love nothing more than these three guys to have another great night and solidify their chances at a POM honor, which would be great to see after this difficult year, but the Caps lay only on point ahead of the Pens for 29th place in the league thanks partly to their shameless promotion of ECHL goalie Stephen Yeats. As I said in my article last week, I have got to pull for these guys to win, and in this case, I hope one of the three above has another stand out performance, giving them the honor. The Player of the Month award is something I hardly pay attention to, and its not usually a big discussion piece anywhere, but after this long season, it would be great for anyone of the Pens to get such an award, they’ve earned it!