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Lee Stempniak must think he died and went to heaven


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  Lee Stempniak has spent most of the season playing on the wing of Matt Stajan, a solid player who is a nice complimentary player at best. Playing for a weak (putting it nicely) Flames team, Stempniak must have felt this was going to be an early tee time come April.

 Instead he was traded to the Penguins and is playing on the wing for the best player in the planet, along with Chris Kunitz. In his first three games he now has 3 assists and looks to be the perfect fit.

 He is a shooter, he is in the top 25 in the league in total shots, (something that will drop as he is not expected to shoot as often with his golden linemates) and can kill penalties when called upon.

Pascal Dupuis's absence has created havoc on the first line, where Crosby and Kunitz have struggled to find a suitable winger even approaching what Dupuis brought to the line.

Stempniak, a nine-year NHL veteran, helped to stabilize the line Monday. Pittsburgh's possession numbers have gone catastrophically south since the Olympic break. The Crosby-Kunitz-Dupuis unit was a possession nightmare before being broken up in December, and no one who has slotted into Dupuis's spot has been able to recreate the kind of down-low cycling that the former trio could put together on command.

"There are a lot of reads I need to get better at," Stempniak said. "[Crosby and Kunitz] have been playing together a long time. For me knowing where pucks will go and where they want support, little things like that will come with time."


  Pickups like this, a solid forward thrilled to have a new lease on life that cost the club virtually nothing is the reason I voted for Ray Shero for top GM in this past summers poll. And I snagged this guy up in my fantasy league as fast as possible when he was dealt before Polaris could, lol.

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As much as I hate him, even I could score a few points if I am put on a line with Crosby. He may be an egotistical whiny bitch but he still has skills no matter how much I hate him.....and trust me, I hate him with a vengeance......Kunitz is another guy who would probably not even break the 3rd line on 90 percent of the NHL teams but has found his niche in Pittsburgh.

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I Wasn't excited about Stempniak being picked up, but I did believe he was an upgrade over Gibbons.  Stempniak isn't a great goal scorer, but he has enough talent to prosper on the line with Crosby.  He's starting to fit in well with the team, so it's going to be exciting as he gets better.  

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Jury will be out on this for a while, although his chip along the boards to set up Crosby's goal was sound both defensively and offensively.  The key will be to see if he can start to go to the right place to score goals.   All he needs to do is get to the open space, and he's going to get chances.  He's an upgrade in skills from Duper's, but Duper's was more of the puck retrieval guy on the line.


I think as he gets used to the team more, he's only going to put up more points.  I see him surpassing his totals from Calgary this year by seasons end, unles he gets Bylsma'd.

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