Friday, January 25, 2013

Pens in Winnipeg tonight; quick thoughts on Tangradi and the Mark Eaton signing

By Finesse

Mark Eaton is back with the Pens.  He signed a 25 game contract with the Baby Pens.  This is huge for us, as our slogan -- So Smart. So Steady. So Serviceable. -- is based off of Ron Cook's description of Mark Eaton.  (We like to think of ourselves as the Mark Eaton of the internet -- serviceable, yet totally unremarkable and forgettable).

I suspect Eaton will see ice time with the big club in short order.  The top 4 defensemen, particularly Letang, are playing minutes that are unsustainable, or at least undesirable, over a 48 game sprint.  I know Letang technically can play big minutes in the sense that he's in great shape, but the issue is whether he can play them well.  His consistent mental breakdowns and discipline issues suggest that he shouldn't spread himself so thin.  The coaches clearly don't yet trust Despres (under 10 minutes of ice time per game), and there is no reason to force minutes upon Engelland (30 and mediocre) and Lovejoy (28 and less than mediocre).  So if you aren't ready to play the young guys like Morrow and Dumoulin, and Engelland and Lovejoy are "ehh" at best, Eaton is a natural choice to eat up some minutes even if his skill set is redundant with Niskanen and Martin.  This doesn't particularly excite us, but like Ron Cook said: He's so serviceable.

- Eric Tangradi has been demoted to the 4th line because of how badly he has sucked in the first three games.  It's too soon to give up on him completely, but the fact remains that he's shown nothing at the NHL level.  He has 5 points in 43 career NHL games.  The Pens have found themselves in this situation with several players over the past several years: a guy not playing well enough to be on a top line, but completely miscast on the 4th line where he essentially has no opportunity to play his way out of whatever it is that's affecting him.  It's hard to have any positive expectations whatsoever for Tangradi on the 4th line with Joe Vitale and Craig Adams.

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