Monday, May 12, 2008

Gonchar: Shutdown specialist

Q. How have you been able to contain Daniel Briere's line? Is it just as simple as putting the Staal line out and Gonchar or is there something that you've been able to do to shut it down?

COACH THERRIEN: Well, it's not an easy thing to do. They've got a lot of skill. And one thing, Gonchar is doing a fantastic job. Like Gonchar yesterday, picking up three assists, playing so solid defensively. He's been doing that for a long time for us. Last night I thought he was phenomenal and deserved more credit than he receives right now.

This is a guy that always goes under the radar. He's a good leader in that dressing room. He's a good leader on the ice, and he's capable to shut down the best player on the other team. I thought yesterday he did a fantastic job.
If there was some sort of an unsung hero or underrated player award in the playoffs, I think Sergei Gonchar would be my choice at the moment.

For all of the attention, all of the coverage, I've seen very little mention of his role in how dominant the Penguins have been defensively in these playoffs. He's made an incredible transition this season from a purely offence-first blueliner into one of the better defensive defencemen in the league, a little-known fact that's paying off for Pittsburgh in these playoffs.

Has anyone else picked up on his defensive play? And could he potentially get MVP consideration?

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At 3:36 p.m., May 12, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mirtle appears to be rocking the Gonch.

At 4:21 p.m., May 12, 2008, Blogger Hooks Orpik said...

Gonchar has been great all season long.

Due to injuries, he's also had to adjust to three different defensive partners (first Mark Eaton then Rob Scuderi and now Brooks Orpik). While good in their own right, none of those players are what you think of when you need top pairing defensemen.

Gonchar's doing all the little things well. Like springing Malkin on that breakaway Game 2. Obviously the slap-shot is the story of the play but without Gonchar's lead pass (and Hossa hustling back to cover for the clobbered Malkin) it nevers happens.

Sarge should get consideration if he and the Pens keep it up, but obviously he'd get buried behind Malkin and Crosby in any sort of Smythe voting. Regardless, he's been great in all three zones.

At 5:52 p.m., May 12, 2008, Blogger selfish crab said...

AND Gonchar plays top minutes as Frankenstein's interpreter.


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