PenguinsExperience.com - A Pittsburgh Penguins Blog © 2009
Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Best Penguins Players in 2008


Over the next few days we will take a look back at 2008 by revealing the results of our Best of 2008 Survey. Thanks to everyone who voted.

Today we're taking a look at the players who were voted as the best Penguins in 2008 by our readers.

Best Penguins Goaltender: Marc-Andre Fleury
Best Penguins Defenseman: Sergei Gonchar
Best Penguins Forward: Evgeni Malkin

These three players all had outstanding years as members of the Penguins.

Marc-Andre Fleury wasn't the most consistent goaltender in 2008. He was injured twice, for extended periods of time, and he had his share of bad games. During his injuries, his back-ups - especially Ty Conklin, now a Detroit Red Wing - frequently stepped up and performed well, leaving some people to ponder whether or not Fleury could hold onto his spot as number one goaltender.

It was the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs where Fleury was at his best.

Fleury recorded three shutouts during the Penguins run to the finals and he made several outstanding saves for the Penguins. In game five against Detroit Fleury made an amazing 55 saves as the Penguins defeated the Red Wings in overtime.

Many attribute his success to changing the colour of his pads. After his lengthy injury Fleury returned with a new look. His trademark yellow pads were gone in favour of new white ones. An Ottawa eye doctor had suggested to him that the white pads might blend into the ice better, giving Fleury an advantage.

Fleury re-signed with the Penguins during the offseason, securing his future with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins best defenseman has not played this season. Sergei Gonchar was hit and injured during a preseason game and he has missed the entire 2008-2009 season thus far. Perhaps it is his absence that shows Penguins fans how important he truly is. The Penguins have struggled without Gonchar, especially on the power play.

Gonchar was another player that truly stood out during the 2008 Stanley Cup playoff run. He recorded 14 points for the Penguins during the playoffs, but it was his defensive efforts that showed his true worth. As an offensive defenseman, Gonchar's defensive abilities are often overlooked, but during the playoffs his defensive skill was impossible to ignore. Gonchar also provides leadership to a Penguins team that is still very young.

When Sidney Crosby went down with a high ankle sprain in January 2008, many fans and analysts thought the Penguins' season was done. But Evgeni Malkin stepped up and defined himself as one of the greatest players in the game.

Malkin entered the year with a bang, recording two hat tricks in January 2008, and he didn't look back. He finished the season second in scoring to Alexander Ovechkin and was nominated for the Hart Trophy, which he also lost to Ovechkin.

Despite a somewhat disappointing performance in the Stanley Cup Finals, Malkin entered the 2008-2009 season with the same dominance he displayed the season before. Malkin quickly took over the league's scoring lead and held it for the remainder of the calendar year. Like Fleury, Malkin signed a contract extension during the offseason, locking in another member of the Penguins core for the long term.

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