With the All Star break drawing to a close, it’s a good opportunity to hand out midseason grades to the Pens. yeah, I know they’ve played more than half their games already. But the All Star break is kind of a logical midseason point.

As always, please keep in mind that these grades are kind of an arbitrary combination of performance and performance versus expectations. Craig Adams can put up 20 points and get an A. Geno cannot.

FORWARDS

Craig Adams: C. Has done exactly what you expect him to do—kill penalties and lead by example.

Arron Asham: D. The guy just can’t stay healthy, and is rarely noticeable when he is. He’ll be on his way out after the season.

Matt Cooke: B+. This is a really tough grade to come up with. His offense has dried up lately. But he’s still a key penalty killer. And his transformation into a Lady Byng candidate is nothing short of amazing.

Sidney Crosby: I. How can it be anything else. he gave us the briefest of glimpses of what could have been and might still be, but it certainly isn’t enough to judge him on.

Pascal Dupuis: C. Was red hot early in the year, but is in a scoring drought now. Everything reverts to the mean. He is what he is: a solid role player who occasionally contributes offensively.

Dustin Jeffrey: D. Has really struggled coming off the injury. Has points in only 1 of 14 games. They’ll need more from him down the stretch.

Tyler Kennedy: F. Has not earned the contract given him over the summer. Counted on for some goal-scoring, he has only 6. Simply not good enough.

Chris Kunitz: A. He’s having a heckuva year. I think Geno has stolen Sid’s left winger. His willingness to do the dirty work has really freed up Geno and Neal to do what they do.

Steve MacIntyre: F. One of the worst NHL players I have ever seen. He can’t skate and has hands of stone. And he is no deterrent at all because he’s simply not good enough to skate a shift or two.

Evgeni Malkin: A. He struggled a bit coming off the injury, but has been lights out since. He’s playing the best, most inspired hockey of his career, to the point that’s he’s probably the Hart favorite right now.

Colin McDonald: I. Probably not an NHL player.
James Neal: A+. He has been simply amazing. He certainly has made me eat crow. Keep shooting, James, keep shooting.

Richard Park: B-. He’s been a bit better than I expected, and is playing his role just fine.

Jordan Staal: B+. Prior to the injury, he was enjoying a goal-scoring resurgence. The rest of his game has remained solid, save for the setup ability. A center averaging 20 minutes of ice time with only 6 assists so far??

Steve Sullivan: D. I expected a bit more from him. he’s got only 10 ES points and is terrible except on the power play.

Eric Tangradi: F. Is it time to give up on him? He hasn’t shown much at all. He does try hard, but just gets no results.

Joe Vitale: B. Ah, the difference in expectations. Basically the same results as Tangradi, but he had such low expectations that just about anything looks good. he needs to become a penalty killer if he’s going to have a career.

Jason Williams: D. I didn’t expect much, but he delivered even less. A totally invisible player when he’s on the ice.

DEFENSEMEN

Robert Bortuzzo: C. Not ready for the NHL yet. Maybe someday. Looks kind of like a young Kjell Samuelsson in that he’s a very awkward skater.

Simon Despres: A. Had very mediocre camp, but looked outstanding before getting hurt.

Deryk Engelland: B+. He has really surprised me. I had doubts about his ability, but is tough in front and moves the puck very well.

Kris Letang: A. Continues to get better and better. His return from concussion was every bit as impressive as Sid’s. Looks to be a perennial all star.

Ben Lovejoy: C-. Hasn’t gotten any better than he was last year. Depres will likely push him out of the rotation.

Paul Martin: C-. He’s looking much better now, but was horrid the first couple months.

Zbynek Michalek: D. He was better last year.
Matt Niskanen: B. He’s improved over last year. He’s just fine as a ⅚ defenseman.

Brooks Orpik: C. His play has been spotty. His leadership has not.

Alexandre Picard: C. Fine as a spare part in Wilkes Barre.

Carl Sneep: I. Not ready.

Brian Strait: I. May never be ready. Probably lost his best chance when he got hurt.

GOALTENDERS

Marc-Andre Fleury: C. This is a tough one too. He has played well, but not quite as well as last season. but he’s always been a second-half guy, too.

Brent Johnson: F. He’s been just brutal, to the point he didn’t even get a start the last back-to-backs they had. I doubt they’d look for a backup at the deadline, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

MANAGEMENT/STAFF

Dan Bylsma: B. Has held the team together through another ridiculous run of injuries. His ability in that area is tops in the league. But his power play, though slightly better this year, is not in the top 10. And he still has to prove his “game” is good enough to win in the playoffs.

Ray Shero: D. Didn’t have a particularly good offseason with the Kennedy and Sullivan signings. We’ll see what he does at the deadline.

Dr. (?) Chip Burke: F. His star player had a broken neck and he didn’t know it??? What kind of hack is this guy?

OTHER

ROOT Sports: F. Their production has to be worst in the league, and they rehired the loathsome homer Paul Steigerwald.

Bibsy: A. He continues to entertain with his mangling of the English language.