Penguins Post-Game Chatter on Iginla, Dupuis, Need/or lack of need for scoring winger, Eaton/Letang pairing & more

pascal-dupuis ISLES-PENGUINS POST-GAME CHATTER

The Penguins are the highest scoring team and have the best line in hockey in Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis. Kunitz, Crosby, Dupuis have combined for 20 goals and 44 points when on the ice together at even strength, and are arguably the best puck possession line in the NHL.
The big development, though, for the Penguins this month that might affect their trade deadline plans, has been the emergence of Beau Bennett who is becoming a fit as the second line left winger, possessing excellent vision, a high hockey IQ and a better overall game than expected. Bennett’s emergence is filling a major void and it’s leading some to wonder why GM Ray Shero would pay the premium to for example acquire a Jarome Iginla when the Penguins have other pressing needs such as a big bodied defenseman who’s effective in defending the front of the net, and a third/fourth line forward that makes it difficult on the opposition and Penguins tougher to play against.
“Beau’s been playing stronger and stronger,” Bylsma said about the rookie winger following tonight’s 6-1 win over the New York Islanders.
When it comes to acquiring another top-6 forward, there’s good arguments coming from both sides, those who believe the Penguins need to go all out for a Jarome Iginla type player and those who feel there are other pressing needs than a scoring winger.
One thing to keep in mind and this why I think the Penguins will try to add another top-6 forward if the price is right, is that Penguin management has always felt the need to have someone who can take over a playoff game or multiple games in a series when Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby aren’t going well at the same time. With Jordan Staal no longer around, that could be on the Penguins mind come trade deadline time.
As for Iginla, he is a major unknown at this point as the Penguins have had zero trade talks with the Flames, and like every other NHL team, they have no idea yet what the asking price would be or whether Iginla will in fact go on the market.
The Penguins are certainly intrigued about Iginla and there’s chatter that he’s the one player they feel who could be the missing piece, but there’s still not a good read on what they would be willing to give up for him, especially considering the fact that Iginla still wants to get paid this off-season with word being that Iginla who’s 35 years old, will be seeking a three to four year deal at over $5 million per season.
Regardless, Iginla being linked to Pittsburgh isn’t going to go away and one prominent winger on the Penguins top line was asked following tonight’s game if there is still a need for Iginla as the Penguins clearly don’t lack offense.

Winger Pascal Dupuis responding to Tim Benz’s (The X Morning Show) Iginla question said “I’m not really going to comment on rumors,” while moments later saying the Penguins need to be better defensively.
The question being directed to Dupuis was interesting from the standpoint that Dupuis could be the player affected by acquiring Iginla, as the Penguins could look to move Dupuis to the third line RW spot and strengthen that line if Iginla were to be acquired, but Bylsma is going to be hard pressed to break up the Crosby line, regardless of who comes in.

EATON TO GET LONG LOOK WITH LETANG?
It won’t be surprising to see Mark Eaton get a long look with Kris Letang as the No. 2 pairing over the next handful of games. Eaton and Letang were a combined plus-7 in the win together and the performance of the two earned Bylsma’s praise afterwards. “Kris and Mark have played a lot together {during Eaton’s 1st stint in PIT), have had success together and complement each other well,” Bylsma said. “They looked like a good pair together.”
By moving Eaton with Letang, it had a domino effect in Matt Niskanen playing a third pairing role with Simon Despres.
I’m in the group who feel Despres with Letang gives the Penguins the most upside out of their No. 2 pair but Bylsma has a lot more trust in Eaton.
The healthy scratch of Deryk Engelland was a long-time coming but look for him to be back in the lineup vs Boston as the Penguins will feel the need for a more physical presence.
Eaton bringing some basic fundamentals on the defensive end to the table and having the trust of the coaching staff, it’s going to be difficult for Bortuzzo to get much playing time, barring an injury, rest of season.

TIDBITS
*The feeling inside the locker room tonight was that the Penguins got to their “identity” vs the Islanders.
*Kris Letang leads all defensemen with 26 points and is third in the NHL in assists with 23. Bylsma tonight called him “dynamic”.
*Islanders F Matt Martin was credited with only 4 hits but I counted at least 6 or 7 hits from him tonight. He was one of the Islanders few brights spots and is the type of player the Penguins need on their fourth line.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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