With Max Talbot injured, the Penguins have a conundrum with their top two lines. The Penguins have a bunch of guys who play left wing, period. Temporarily switching one to right wing on Evgeni Malkin’s line, as appears to be the plan, might not work.
Pascal Dupuis is a left wing. Ruslan Fedotenko is a left wing. Move either to right wing, you got problems.
Neither has the hands to consistently shift the puck inside, through traffic, to his forehand. Neither has the finishing skills to benefit from his shot being on the inside of the rink. Neither plays particularly well on his backhand. Either will have trouble taking the puck off the boards with control on his off-wing.
Given those facts, Coach Dan Bylsma might want to consider using Tyler Kennedy as second-line right wing. It would be a shame to break up the third line of Jordan Staal-Kennedy-Matt Cooke, but it would be a bigger shame to not give Malkin the best chance to maximize his production.
Put Kennedy on the second line with Fedotenko at LW. Use Dupuis as third-line right wing. Dupuis’ abilities are better suited for mucking duties than scoring duties, especially at RW.
It should be noted that Talbot – also playing out of position at right wing on Malkin’s line – has many of the same flaws as Dupuis and Fedotenko when it comes to the off-wing.
But his forecheck is better, he’s excellent at being the high man when Malkin chases deep and he has a poacher’s anticipation for loose pucks. It shouldn’t work – but it does.
The Penguins may fill out their training camp roster by inviting a tryout player or two. That approach yielded the very useful Adam Hall two seasons ago.
Inviting Philippe Boucher on a tryout basis might be a bit awkward considering he helped the Pens win the Cup last season. But it might be Boucher’s only option.
*Sidney Crosby had his tennis-court roller hockey game for the Stanley Cup. Sid played goal, and his team won, 7-3. Given Crosby’s merciless competitive streak, it seems fair to assume he stacked his team. By his own admission, he was wearing oversized goalie equipment. I’m glad he’s on our side. I’m also glad he’s not Garth Snow.