To win in the playoffs, all hands have to be on deck. With one series complete, the Pens have already used seven defensemen, 14 forwards, and one goalie. All 22 of these players had a role to play in the win over Ottawa. One player who does his job on a consistent basis, but is often overlooked, is Craig Adams. Adams is a Harvard grad and has had a solid career as a role player. His best offensive year was 05-06 with Carolina when he scored 10 goals and 11 assists as a part of the Hurricanes Stanley Cup Championship team. When Ray Shero picked him up on waivers from the Black Hawks, it was not front page news. Make no mistake about it, he has been a large part of the Penguins playoff success since his arrival. His name rarely appears on the scoresheet, but when you look at some of the other stats that helps win hockey games, this is where he excels. Hits, faceoffs, penalty killing minutes are a large part of his game. On a team with many stars and many leaders, his voice is the one often heard in the locker room. When people talk about the Penguins’ strength down the middle with their top three centers, I think Adams can be included in that strength as one of the more valuable fourth line centers in the game. He averages about 11 minutes of ice time per game, and was second in hits among all forwards in the Ottawa series. Kunitz led with 24 hits and Adams had 21, some of which were very punishing. Take a look at a hit he put on Alfredson in a regular season game this year –
He was also credited with four blocked shots in the series – a valuable tool for a penalty killer. Given his style of play, Adams is also a very durable player. He and Staal were the only two players to play in all 82 games this season. Yes, the stars get most of the headlines, and deservedly so. But you don’t win Stanley Cups without versatile players like Craig Adams. That’s the view from E-11.
Note — Bob Errey is becoming a good color man. He really sees the game and has good insights. If he could get away from the inane bantering with Steigy, he could become a true pro.
Note — I am anxious for Round Two, but really glad the Pens wrapped it up in six. It made my prediction correct and gives us all a little rest.