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Game 40: Fedotenko demoted to the 4th line; Kennedy to return to lineup
Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma has not been happy with the production of his top-2 line wingers. Bill Guerin is the only consistent winger the Penguins have had all season playing with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
Yesterday in practice, Michael Rupp skated with Sidney Crosby while Ruslan Fedotenko took line rushes on the third and fourth line.
More changes are instore tonight against the Buffalo Sabres. This morning Chris Kunitz returned to the ice after missing yesterday’s skate and will play on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis tonight.
Meanwhile, Evgeni Malkin will center Michael Rupp and Bill Guerin on the second line.
Dan Bylsma sent a message on Sunday scratching Tyler Kennedy and Bylsma is considering another change tonight.
Forward Ruslan Fedotenko was the extra forward this morning and he will be a healthy scratch tonight or skate on the fourth line with Max Talbot and Craig Adams, if Bylsma opts not to play Eric Godard.
Fedotenko has 7 goals on the season and has been extremely inconsistent this season. Despite playing with Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby for the entire season, Fedotenko has not been able to elevate his game. His play in the defensive zone has also been lacking which is the main reason for the demotion. Fedotenko has a team worst plus/minus rating of minus 6.
Although Pittsburgh is among the best teams in the league, the coaching staff is growing impatient with the lack of production for their wingers as evident by Blysma exploring a number of different combinations in practice and even in games of late.
After being a healthy scratch against Toronto, Tyler Kennedy will return to the lineup. Kennedy will be reunited on the third line with Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke.
Eaton to return to lineup
Pittsburgh will make one change on defense as Mark Eaton will return to the lineup replacing Martin Skoula. Alex Goligoski skated today after not practicing Monday morning.
Orpik – Gonchar
Eaton – Letang
McKee – Goligoski