Despres or not Despres - 03-01-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Last night, Dan Bylsma made the curious decision to dress defenseman Robert Bortuzzo against the Carolina Hurricanes in place of Simon Despres (above). Bortuzzo was on the ice for the Hurricanes' final two goals, including one where Carolina captain Eric Staal directly stripped him of the puck and fed it to teammate Alexander Semin who set up Jiri Tlusty for a score. To add insult to injury, Bortuzzo lost a fight with Carolina's Jay Harrison near the end of regulation.

What made the decision curious was the opponent. Bylsma has expressed a desire to dress Bortuzzo over Despres for opponents which are more physical or prone to fighting such as the Sabres or Flyers. With the exception of enforcer Kevin Westgarth, a healthy scratch last night, the Hurricanes, by any measure, are not an overly physical team.

The Penguins' use of Despres this season has been curious as well. Starting the season on the team's bottom defensive pairing, he was eventually pressed into duty on the second pairing due to an injury to Matt Niskanen. After producing some numbers in that role, he was once again relegated to the third pairing while being moved in and out of the lineup with Bortuzzo.

In six games with Despres as a healthy scratch this season, the Penguins are 2-4-0. In their other 15 games, they are 11-4-0. Additionally, they have surrended the lead in five of thoses six games:


2-4-0 Record 11-4-0
Goals For
(Average Per Game)
Goals Against
(Average Per Game)
Shots For
(Average Per Game)
Shots Against
(Average Per Game)
Penalty Minutes
(Average Per Game)
Times Shorthanded
(Average Per Game)
Lost Leads
(Percentage of Games
with Lost Leads)

Note: The "Lost Lead" category indicates the occasions the Penguins had a lead at any point of a game and allowed an opponent to either tie or take its own lead. It is not reflective of wins or losses.

Note Two: This isn't meant to reflect Bortuzzo as being the only other option to Despres which Byslma has used. He did play Ben Lovejoy in place of Despres earlier in the season.

Note Three: Kudos to EN reader Michael Crow for pointing this trend out.

(Photo: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

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