LINEUP CHANGES FOR GAME 3?
*James Neal traveled with the Penguins to Long Island and skated today for about 10 minutes, according to those on the scene. The Penguins will not discuss injured players publicly so of course there was no update on Neal from the team.
That said, I’m told the Penguins have no expectations of Neal playing tomorrow afternoon in Game 3 but the team feels he has an outside chance to suit up for Game 4, a reason he traveled with the team. The good news is that he doesn’t have a high ankle sprain or anything serious to the point that would knock him out for two to four weeks. He’s still a possibility to play at somepoint in this series.
*As for Brooks Orpik, he did not practice today and has not skated with the team since Thursday. Rob Rossi of the Tribune-review wrote today that Orpik was also not visible at the Nassau Coliseum today, so there’s no real sense that Orpik will play in Game 3.
Watching Orpik this week skate in Wednesday’s morning skate and Thursday’s practice session, he really struggled to skate with any power or do much lateral movement at a high speed.
*One aspect of Game 2 that stands out is that the Penguins did not get all four lines rolling. In Game 1, the Penguins 4th line was very physical and effective with Tanner Glass collecting a team-high 6 hits. Glass had just 4:55 of ice time in Game 2 and only 3:59 at even strength.
Beau Bennett who opened the game on the second line, saw very limited minutes in Game 2, playing just 7:19 and only 6:17 at even strength.
One reason for that was Bylsma using Jussi Jokinen on left wing with Malkin and Iginla. That was something I expected to happen but it was noticeable that Jokinen one of the Penguins best forwards since being acquired, was never able to get into a rhythm after starting the game on the 4th line.
If we see some lineup changes in Game 3, Deryk Engelland being benched is the most logical player to sit. Engelland took two bad penalties in Game 2 and the Penguins need someone quicker to retrieve pucks with Paul Martin.
Simon Despres was paired with Martin in the regular season finale and should get consideration, but we all know Bylsma doesn’t trust him, so we’ll see tomorrow if there’s a change.
The interesting decision will be at forward. The feeling has been that since Bylsma decided to dress Beau Bennett over Tyler Kennedy, he would be looking for the first opportunity to get Kennedy back in the lineup. After a quiet game from Bennett on Friday night, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Kennedy play tomorrow, especially with how Bylsma uses rookies this season.