Penguins Notebook: Engelland not suprising to Bonvie
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Dennis Bonvie knows a bit about fighting.
Actually, he knows just about everything about it, after spending so much of his 15-year pro career doing it.
He also knows something about Deryk Engelland, having played against him in the American Hockey League before becoming his teammate with the Penguins' American Hockey League team in Wilkes-Barre.
So Bonvie, now a scout for the Chicago Blackhawks, says he hasn't been caught off-guard by anything Engelland has done this season.
Especially by how well Engelland has fared in most of his fights. He enters the Penguins' game tonight at Ottawa with 10 fighting majors, tying him for the third most in the league.
"I had to fight him a few times before we played together," Bonvie said, smiling. "I'm not surprised."
Engelland has beaten respected heavyweights such as Colton Orr and Jody Shelley, and put Taylor Pyatt of Phoenix on injured-reserve with an unspecified facial injury Monday.
"He's done really well," Bonvie said. "He's tough. Obviously, things are going his way right now, but he's as tough as they come, and he'll fight anybody. He's done that throughout his whole career."
Most of the attention Engelland has gotten this season focuses on his fighting, but he also has been a solid No. 6 defenseman most of the season.
"He plays 10 or 12 minutes a night and plays rough and tough," Bonvie said. "He's kind of your prototypical sixth defenseman.
"He's got the size, he's got the reach. His skills are pretty good. He skates pretty well for a big man, he's got maneuverability and pretty good hockey sense."
A pretty fair right cross, too.
Ottawa gave former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar a three-year contract worth $16.5 million in July because the Senators believed he could be an impact player, and he has been.
Just not in a particularly good way most of the time.
He has just four goals and 12 assists in 36 games, tying him for 32nd place in the scoring race among NHL defensemen. What's more, his plus-minus rating of minus-19 is the fourth worst in the league, and the worst of anyone not drawing a paycheck from the New Jersey Devils.
"It's not easy, coming in to a new team," Gonchar told the Ottawa Citizen. "You have high expectations and, you hope with a new addition, the team is going to be better. Obviously, we're not playing as well as we expect to, so, yeah, I'm probably putting pressure on myself that I normally wouldn't.
"I'm squeezing my stick probably a little harder than I should. It's one of those things you have to deal with, but there's no excuse for it. I have to be better."
Gonchar, 36, also struggled terribly in the early months of his Penguins career, but began to get his game in sync after Michel Therrien replaced Eddie Olczyk as coach in December 2005.
It's no secret that Penguins center Sidney Crosby leads the NHL in points (60) and goals (29).
Heck, lots of folks probably also are aware that he is tied with Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay for second place with 31 assists, four behind Vancouver's Henrik Sedin.
Those aren't the only stats in which Crosby ranks among the league leaders, however, and he is not the only Penguin to turn up in the top 10 of a particular category.
• Even-strength goals: Crosby (19), first.
• Faceoffs taken: Crosby (857), first.
• Game-winning goals: Alex Goligoski (4), tied for fifth.
• Hits: Matt Cooke (104), tied for eighth.
• Home goals: Crosby (17), first.
• Power-play goals: Crosby (9), tied for second.
• Plus-minus rating: Crosby (+18) and Kris Letang (+18), tied for second.
• Road points: Crosby (27), tied for first.
• Shooting percentage: Crosby (20.1), sixth.
• Short-handed goals: Cooke (2), tied for fifth.
• Shots: Crosby (144), fifth and Evgeni Malkin (141), tied for seventh.
First Published December 26, 2010 12:00 am