MORNING PENS BUZZ
Even in a meaningless game a head coach doesn’t like surrendering a 2-0 goal lead with the playoffs just around the corner.
“Certainly don’t like the situation of giving up a lead,” Bylsma said on the Penguins giving up a 2-0 lead in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Devils. “Those we’re situations where we’ve been very good, so those are situations you want to play well, look to play well.”
If there’s one area of concern for the Penguins heading into the playoffs, it’s the penalty kill being an issue in a seven game series and keeping an inferior team hanging around in a series. “Penalty kill in third period was a big one for us and we weren’t able to kill it off,” Bylsma said on David Clarkson’s third period power play goal.
The Penguins are 25th in the NHL at 79% on the penalty kill and it’s been an alarming area since last years disaster of a playoff series vs the Flyers.
Of the three potential first round playoff matchups for the Penguins they could face, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders or New York Rangers, the Islanders have the best power play of the three at 20.7% (7th in NHL). The Senators who just got Erik Karlsson back are 20th in the NHL at 16.7% and the Rangers have the 22nd ranked power play at 16.3%.
While there’s been players coming in and out of the lineup for this weeks meaningless games, some personnel decisions have caught my eye. Among Them:
*With Paul Martin on track to return for game 1 of the playoffs (might play in regular season finale vs CAR) and the Penguins believing Brooks Orpik (lower body) will be okay for next week, it’s clear that two of the Penguins defensive pairings will be Brooks Orpik – Paul Martin and Douglas Murray – Matt Niskanen.
It’s been no accident that Kris Letang and Mark Eaton have been d-partners the past two games. That’s the plan for the playoffs, but it will be interesting if Eaton gets taxed in a top-2 pairing role.
*With Evgeni Malkin returning to lineup this past Tuesday night, Jarome Iginla saw time at left wing vs Sabres and Thursday night vs the Devils, Iginla saw extensive time at left wing with Malkin and Beau Bennett.
It’s no secret that Bylsma believes Iginla can work at left wing and if Sidney Crosby is able to play for start of the playoffs, all signs point to Iginla – Malkin – Neal playing together with the top line of Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis anchoring the top line.
*Brenden Morrow – Brandon Sutter – Matt Cooke were back together vs the Devils and it’s a line Bylsma intends to play a big role in the playoffs. He talked about the three Thursday night.
“That’s a type of line they will be for us,” Bylsma said on the third lines play vs Devils. “One we want to have be a hard line to play against and one that can play in offensive zone and they’ve been effective at doing that. Certainly will be big role for them as a group in the playoffs.”