ShareThis Page

Fedotenko flourishes in Penguins' resurgence

| Thursday, April 9, 2009

There's something about this time of year and these types of games that get left wing Ruslan Fedotenko going.

"I like to play in tight games," Fedotenko said. "When the pressure is on, that's kind of my style of game."

Fedotenko has recorded eight points - including three goals - and a plus-8 rating in the past five games. His surge has aided the Penguins in securing a playoff spot. Fedotenko scored the game's first goal and recorded an assist Tuesday night in a 6-4 playoff-clinching victory over Tampa Bay.

"I think he's hopefully heating up, which is good," general manager Ray Shero said.

If past seasons are any indication, Fedotenko is rounding into form. He's known as a guy who plays big in big games.

Fedotenko has the NHL's ultimate prize to prove it.

Fedotenko helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win a Stanley Cup in 2004. He scored both goals in a 2-1 victory in Game 7. He also scored a critical first goal in a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final that year.

Fedotenko thrives in those pressure-filled situations.

"I think you always feel the pressure, but you know how to deal with that," he said. "You try to simplify, go to the roots of the way you play. In my case, go hard to the net, create some chances, give-and-go, not necessarily just trying to toe-drag. That's not my game.

In those situations, just go simple, go to the net and score big goals."

Fedotenko makes it sound simple. He's made it look easy in the past, too. Now, he'll have a chance to make some big plays with the Penguins this postseason.

Fedotenko's clutch play is a big reason Shero signed him to a one-year deal this past July. He'll certainly be a go-to guy throughout the Penguins' playoff run.

"Right now, he's kind of in the zone, which is great," center Jordan Staal said. "There's no better timing than right now. Probably he felt that the team really needed him right now and we did, and he's stepping up for us."

There was a time not too long ago when Fedotenko wasn't particularly in playoff form. Fedotenko had a breakout game against the New York Rangers on March 28 when he recorded a goal and two assists. In the nine games prior, though, he failed to record a point.

Shero admittedly grew a bit concerned during that stretch, but New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow reassured Shero that Fedotenko - who played for the Islanders last season - would rediscover his game.

"I said, 'He's struggling' and (Snow) said, 'Don't worry. You make the playoffs, he's gonna be good in the playoffs,'" Shero said.

Fedotenko credits his recent success mostly to the confidence he has in his game. Shero said his play has improved because "he's much more involved in the play, more physical and shooting the puck when he has the opportunity."

Fedotenko is returning to form after he missed five weeks from Jan. 6 to Feb. 14 with a broken right hand, which was a result of a fight with Atlanta's Colby Armstrong.

"When you have confidence, when people believe in you, people give you chances to see what you can do, you thrive on that and that's how I feel," Fedotenko said. "I feel I was put in a good situation and I play well when they depend on me. I feel like I always come up strong."

Fedotenko isn't a guy who is going to score a ton of goals. He has averaged 17.4 per season throughout his eight-year career. He averages 34.5 points per year with a career-high 41 points and 26 goals in 2005-06.

This season, Fedotenko has 16 goals and 21 assists. Perhaps more telling is his plus-17 rating, second on the team to only defenseman Rob Scuderi's plus-19. Fedotenko also scored three game-winning goals this season.

There could be more of those to come if his past success is any indication.

"I hope they look to me as a big part of the team, but time will show," Fedotenko said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.