“The Pittsburgh Penguins have defined inconsistency this season and their record of 7-7-1 is proof.”

I wrote that in last month’s 3 Stars article.

What a difference a month makes. One could say the Penguins defined consistency in November going 10-3-1 to improve their record to 16-8-2 after November.

This month was all about Crosby. And Fleury. And Letang. And the team defense. And the PK. The powerplay was good too. Kunitz and Dupuis are on fire. Mad Max is playing like Mad Max. All 4 lines are contributing offensively and as are the defensemen.

Basically, it was a great month to be a Penguin fan (after that Bruins game of course).

Joining me to give their 3 Stars for the month are Faceoff Factor extraordinaire Matt Bodenschatz and the newest Faceoff Factor writer Adelyn Biedenbach.

Your 3 Stars for November

Matt

  • 1. Sidney Crosby: He’s having one of the best starts to a season in his young career, and that’s saying a lot. He’s simply been dominant. What else would we expect from Crosby, though?

  • 2. Marc-Andre Fleury: It wasn’t long ago that Fleury was an afterthought, with Brent Johnson starting most games. Now, he’s riding high, and it seems as though he just can’t lose. November has been kind to the Flower, that’s for sure.
  • 3. Kris Letang: He started hot, and he remains hot. Among the league leaders in points from the blueline, Letang has also grown into a reliable top-pairing defenseman who leads his team in plus/minus. He’s far from Norris-eligible, but an All Star appearance seems likely.

Zach:

  • 1. Sidney Crosby: Crosby scored 26 points in 14 games in November – Mario Lemieux-esque numbers. He has been unstoppable and in November had a 13 game point streak that is currently still active. Leads the league with 48 points in 29 games. He leads the league with 33 even strength points, 12 more than second place Alex Ovechkin and Pavel Datsyuk (21).

  • 2. Kris Letang: Letang kept up his scoring pace and currently is on pace for 74 points, more than any defensemen scored last season except Mike Green. However, Letang has been physical and excellent in his own end as well making him a well rounded, excellent defensemen at 23. Unreal.
  • 3. Marc-Andre Fleury: As bad as Fleury was in October, he was that good in November. Johnson had his one bad start in Dallas and that allowed Fleury to get his job back. The defense has improved dramatically so that has really helped him as well.

Adelyn:

  • 1. Sidney Crosby: Okay, so maybe he always gets chosen as one of the three stars, but he played exceptionally well this month, even for him. With three point nights, a hat trick against the Flames and generally ungodly numbers he is the hotter than ever. And it’s funny because he probably has another 20 years of hockey in him, just imagine.

  • 2. Paul Martin: I really like the way Martin is fitting in on the Penguins defense. It’s also a plus that he has been doing well offensively as well, putting up assists and making plays. I like his style of defense and am excited to see more from him.
  • 3. Marc Andre Fleury: Honestly, he has been playing much better than I would have anticipated the way that this season started out. November was his best month by far, and so far this year he has 11 wins and six losses. The Penguins only lost three games in November and Fleury only played in two of those. It helps a lot that the defense has been improving as well, but I feel like the goaltender we all know and love came back this month and is ready to stay strong throughout the rest of the season.

Offense:
Sidney Crosby was just unreal and no defensemen or goaltender in the league can stop him.

Evgeni Malkin had another down month but he was obviously hurt since he is now out of the lineup with a knee injury. He’s only on pace for 62 points, by far the lowest of his career. His linemates the past last year and this year have been 3rd line grinders at best. More Malkin discussion can be found here

Defense:
Letang and Brooks Orpik have formed a great defensive pair that can play against the opponents top lines as well as produce offensive. Both players are great skaters and they get the puck out of the zone extremely fast.

Michalek and Martin have been excellent as well and their pairing is actually similar to the Orpik-Letang pairing, but with a more defensive conscience. Michalek has been great on the PK and it has been elevated to the #1 unit in the league as soon as he returned from injury.

Goligoski has been removed from the top PP due to his hesitation and inability to get his shots though to the net. He is still playing some good hockey and is still getting his points – he just isn’t ready for the number 1 unit as of now.

Engelland and Lovejoy have done their jobs as of late. Nothing can really be said of their play that has not been said before. They do not see much ice time and when they do, they do their job.

Goaltending
Marc-Andre Fleury has been excellent as of late and he has been getting some great defensive play in front of him as well.

He is making the first save and his defense are making sure there are no second chance opportunities. He is also seeing many of the shots because the defense is clearing bodies out from in front.

It is amazing what happens when your goaltender gains a little bit of confidence and your big money defensemen are in the lineup and healthy.

Conclusion
The Penguins had a great month in November and by all accounts have continued the success into December.

The power play needs to score some more goals although they had been doing a bit better in November.

Malkin needs to get healthy and effective soon. Imagine what would happen if Malkin and Crosby were both playing at 100% capacity. The NHL may not be able to handle it.

NHL Star Tracker

  • 1st star = 3 points
  • 2nd star = 2 points
  • 3rd star = 1 point
Name Points
Sidney Crosby 11
Brent Johnson 9
Kris Letang 7
Marc-Andre Fleury 4
Deryk Engelland 2
Mark Letestu 1