BYLSMA ON THE ADDITION OF DOUGLAS MURRAY & MORE
With three straight early playoff exits, a knock on the Penguins is that they are not tough enough to play against. The Penguins feel they addressed some of that upfront yesterday with the addition of Brenden Morrow to the top-9, but the biggest addition might end up being the 6-foot-3, 245-pound defenseman Douglas Murray.
One thing scouts have constantly contended dating back to the Tampa Bay playoff series in 2011, is that you can drive to net easily against the Penguins and cause havoc.
Some of those issues have been personnel issues, which Murray should address, and system wise the Penguins have made improvements of late, keeping teams to the outside and boxing out much more effectively.
Bylsma during his tenure as coach has not had a big bodied defenseman like Murray since Hal Gill and the sense is that Murray is a more punishing, rugged defenseman than Gill was.
Bylsma said adding a player of Murray’s rugged style was important, in addition to Murray being left handed.
“Lefthanded shot, big strong defensive guy, a more stay at home type of guy and a physical rugged guy in how he plays,” Bylsma said of Murray. Bylsma raved about how strong Murray is, saying those of us in Eastern Conference might not realize how strong he is. “He’s big and strong tough to play against down low,” Bylsma said.
I mentioned it yesterday in that getting the Stars third round pick was important in giving the Penguins ability to move a second or third round pick for another need prior to the trade deadline. That’s what we saw here in the Penguins being willing to move a second rounder.
How the top-6 in the blueline shakes out will be interesting to watch. Kris Letang remains day to day and should return to the lineup this week. There was talk prior to this trade of the Penguins wanting to use Mark Eaton and Matt Niskanen as the No. 3 pairing but is Murray quick enough on the feet and good enough in the transition game to play with Letang who is always out with one of the top-2 lines? That remains to be seen.
Some really interesting decisions are coming once Letang is healthy.
*Bylsma indicated today that he see’s Beau Bennett being a fit on the third line due to how well he plays without the puck.
*Brenden Morrow on joining the Penguins on a 12 game winning streak: “I just don’t want to screw it up.” Morrow said the reason he picked the Penguins was to try to win a Stanley Cup. Morrow will wear No. 10 as him and Tanner Glass have worked out a deal.
*The Penguins have re-assigned Trevor Smith and their active roster right now has 13 forwards, 8 defensemen and 2 goaltenders. Two roster moves will have to be made when Letang, Malkin come off IR but after April 3rd teams are allowed unlimited roster moves.
Forwards: Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Brenden Morrow, Beau Bennett, Dustin Jeffrey, James Neal, Matt Cooke, Brandon Sutter, Tyler Kennedy, Tanner Glass, Joe Vitale, Craig Adams
Defensemen: Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, Mark Eaton, Matt Niskanen, Simon Despres, Deryk Engelland, Robert Bortuzzo, Douglas Murray
Goaltenders: Marc Andre Fleury, Tomas Vokoun
Injured Reserve: Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang