PENS 2013 SEASON PREVIEW: Defense

 

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We've already looked at the Goalies and 11 Forwards.

 
We're doing defense last because, to be honest, we've been scared to preview the defense.  Well, that and we wanted to check out the Black and Gold Game to see exactly who we're dealing with here.
 
We wet our beds multiple times over the summer while having nightmares about the Flyers series.  It was like one of those nightmares that you wake up from, but as soon as you close your eyes, you're immediately back in the nightmare.  But that series was 9 months ago.  That's given everyone 9 months of soul-searching.
 
It looks like we have the old Brooks Orpik back.  If Letang's game is ever gonna hit serious Norris discussion levels, it will probably be this season.  This season could be the Paul Martin Redemption Tour.  You have Matt Niskanen, and then you have more question marks than the Riddler.
 
We're sucking it up and taking one last look at the D before the puck drops.
 

 

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Brooks Orpik

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Last Season: Orpik looked kind of off last season.  Turns out that he may have been playing with an injury for a bulk of the season.  He's the longest-tenured Penguin, so he deserves the benefit of the doubt in our book.
This Season:  If the Black and Gold scrimmage was any indication, Brooks Orpik looks like he's back in business.  He's the cornerstone of the Pens' D, and they're counting on him to bring all the D prospects in the system up to speed for the foreseeable future. No word yet if he'll stop talking like he is Canadian.
 

Kris Letang

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Last season: Letang would've reached career highs across the board if he didn't miss 30-some games.  He looked completely out of control in the Flyers series.
This Season: Letang is gonna be up for a new contract after 2013-2014.  It's essentially a guarantee that the Pens will re-sign him.  His performance this season will help dictate the terms of that contract, which will probably be negotiated and signed mid-season next year. Hopefully gets a haircut at some point.
 

Paul Martin

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Last Season: That was a rough one. One of the more bizarre seasons for a Pens dman.
This Season: Huge season for Paul Martin.  Shero and Bylsma haven't tiptoed around criticizing Martin's play.  More importantly for us, we will have the Paul Martin Confidence Index and #PaulMartinPowerball this season.
 

Matt Niskanen

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Last season: It was clearly his best season as a Penguin, considering it was his first complete season.  He was a steady presence on the blue line amidst all the injury problems.  It was a pleasant surprise.
This Season: No clue, really.  He would have to religiously suck for fans to turn on him.
 

Simon Despres

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Last Season: Played 18 games.  1 G, 3 A.  It was designed to be a decent body of work preparing him for his role this season.
This Season: If we're to believe everything we've seen, Despres may be in the lineup on Saturday.  While that may not be too startling, the fact that he may be paired with Letang has us grabbing our popcorn.  Either way, he needs NHL work. 
 

Ben Lovejoy

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Last Season: He was in and out of the lineup all season.  Only played 34 games. Then ended up blowing a huge shift or two in the playoffs. No big deal or anything.
This Season: He's playing for a job, either in the Pens organization,  in the NHL or at a car dealership.  The blue-line prospects in the Pens' system are circling him like vultures.
 

Deryk Engelland

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Last Season: Had career highs last season.  He's the third-line defenseman that gets the job done.  The Pens were thin on the blue line last year, so we didn't see as many fights from him.
This Season:  We've always been bigger Engo fans than Lovejoy fans, but that doesn't make his spot in the Pens' organization any safer than Lovejoy's. 
 

Robert Bortuzzo

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Last Season: Limited pictures of Bortuzzo on the Internet. He was victimized by a vicious head shot against the Flyers last season that apparently Shanny lost the tape too.
This Season: Don't really know what to make of him yet. He's tall so that's cool.
 

 

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