Thursday, March 22, 2012

Matt Niskanen: From Poor Man's Jordan Leopold to Rich Man's Jordan Leopold

By Finesse

Last year, we really didn't like Matt Niskanen.  We gave Shero credit for getting him thrown in the Goligoski-Neal trade, but once we saw him play we longed for the days where we were underwhelmed by Jordan Leopold.  But what a difference a year makes.

Nobody talks about Niskanen and that's the best thing about him.  I can't remember saying a single good or bad thing about him all season, except he does a really good job at one-timing super hard passes.  He's definitely added some grit to his game as he's gotten more comfortable in Pittsburgh and has transformed himself from a nice throw-in piece of an already great trade to an extremely valuable third-pairing defenseman.  He has missed one game all season, plays over 18 minutes a night, and is a +10.  As a 5th defenseman with a $1.5 million cap hit, he's more than just a valuable asset.  He's a luxury.

Will not disappoint you if you don't expect too much.
Preview of Pens-Predators after the jump...

Huge game against the Predators tonight, as the Rangers have decided not to go quietly into the night.  Against Winnipeg, the Pens could score at will and had to play almost no defense (we're looking at you, Paul Martin).  But with Pekka Rinne in goal tonight, it's about defense...the Pens can't let the Preds get to 3 goals.  We've been fans long enough to pick up the smell in the air about tonight's game.  Pens out-shoot Preds 41-21, Rinne stands on his head, power play goes 0-for-6 and the Preds win 2-1 on a late goal.  But we also have an inkling that a certain Penguin loaded up on Febreze.


  1. So smart, so serviceable. This is why GTOG is the number 1 Penguins blog. Because no one else is taking the time to talk about Matt Niskanen.
    I never thought about comparing Niskanen to Leopold but it is an interesting one. Niskanen is younger than Leopold, and didn't come here as a rental. But he was tearing it up earlier in the season. I don't remember exactly, but he was right up there with Letang in points in the beginning. And he hasn't balanced it out with repeated defensive break-downs, which made him go up from a potential 7th defenseman to the team's number 5, a fix in the line-up while Engelland and Lovejoy were trading places.

    In talking about tonight's game you can't overlook a scary looking dude wearing number 47 in white tonight. While the East is obsessed with Crosby, all eyes in the West will be on Alex Radulov. Judging by all the hype, the guy, who is starting his NHL season tonight, might end it as the Predators' leading scorer.

    What a lucky scheduling decision by the NHL. If the game took place two weeks ago - no Crosby, no Letang and no Radulov - this would have been a low-key clash of two teams looking to strengthen their hold on the #4 seed in their respective conferences. Now you have people calling this game a potential SCF preview.

  2. I'm a skeptic about Radulov, although I have nothing to base that on and have never seen him play. I think he will be somewhere between Janne Pesonen and Alex Semin.

    But again, that's based on nothing.

  3. I'd say somewhere between 2011 Alex Kovalev and 2008 Marian Hossa.

    1. That's quite a large range.

    2. Somewhere between 2002 Konstantin Kolstov and 1981 Pierre LaRouche.

    3. They don't call Russian players "enigmatic" for nothing

    4. Haha. Somewhere between a 2002 Jags and a 2012 Jags? (or has this conversation gone way off the rails).