PENS – ISLES FALLOUT
The Penguins were back on the ice today and there was a minor shakeup on the lines today and on the Penguins struggling power play.
The Penguins top four lines were:
Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
Jeffrey – Malkin – Neal
Glass – Sutter – Cooke
Adams – Vitale – Kennedy
Kennedy tied for a team worst minus-4 rating, was on the 4th line and his play away from the puck has not been strong. However, the setup today of Glass on the third line and Kennedy on the fourth line has both players out of place.
Glass is an effective fourth liner but he’s out of place on the third line. He’s a guy you only want there in spot duty. At somepoint, the Penguins have to get Cooke, Sutter and Kennedy together and hope they get it going or that’s going to be problematic for the Penguins who have believed the third line would be a strength.
A lot of talk is on the top-2 lines. Neither line is playing dominant hockey at even strength and the Penguins would love to put Chris Kunitz back with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal but personnel wise they feel they can’t.
If the Crosby line doesn’t find their magic from the 2010-2011 season in the next couple games, one option that should be explored is giving Dustin Jeffrey a look with Crosby. Here’s why:
What the Penguins need is one of these lines playing extremely well and putting Kunitz back down with Malkin and Neal might give them that best chance due to the continuity between the three last season and just maybe a line of Jeffrey, Crosby and Dupuis will be good enough until a move is or isn’t made.
Jeffrey could mesh well with Crosby because of how well he thinks the game.
The Penguins worked on the power play today for over 10 minutes and yes they looked worst than they did last night. Didn’t think it was possible but it was.
One change we’re going to see is Evgeni Malkin being moved to the point with Kris Letang.
The Penguins opened the year with James Neal in a rover role but the plan appears to be to get Neal back into his spot from last season when he led the NHL in power play goals.
Neal admitted today he is obviously more comfortable down low and moving him back there is the right move. Sometimes this coaching staff just tries to over-think things.
Neal’s position on the power play, though, isn’t the Penguins biggest issue. It’s really Kris Letang’s inability as a power play quarterback.
There doesn’t appear to be any interest in changing Letang’s role. When asked last night of who he wants to be the “power play quarterback” and who the “power play should run through”, Bylsma didn’t hesitate and said “Kris Letang”.
We’ll find out tomorrow night against the Rangers if Malkin’s presence at the point improves things.
While some of the same concerns from late last season surrounding this team from system to personnel issues keep popping up, there is no sense of panic in the organization to the players. They feel it’s early.
“Couple bad bounces, got down early and seems like we let that frustration get to us, ” Sidney Crosby said on the Islanders.
Crosby felt the Islanders didn’t dominate play by any means last night and Bylsma seemed to feel play was also somewhat even yesterday during his post-game press conference.
“Think it was pretty even, ” Crosby said.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik though had a pretty good observation of how things really went last night.
“Just felt like every aspect of the game, we got beat at,” Orpik said. “All 20 guys in the lineup didn’t play well. Seemed like if there was a puck battle in first period or last couple minutes of the game, they were coming out with it.”
AUDIO FROM LAST NIGHT