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Insider Only Post-Morning Skate Buzz: Long-term, Bylsma still intends to unleash new attack with Malkin, Crosby & Staal

St. Louis Blues (10-8-2, 22 pts) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (12-6-3, 27 pts)

When: 7:08 p.m. | Where: Consol Energy Center
TV: Root Sports (HD)
Referees: Hebert Ghislain (22); Don VanMassenhoven (21); Linesmen Pierre Champoux (67); Steve Barton (59)

Post-Morning Skate Buzz

18 Minutes or less for Crosby? With three games in four nights, Sidney Crosby will see his minutes managed for rest of the week, which shouldn’t be a surprise. “I’m still worried about the minutes {Sidney} Crosby is going to play and playing four games in six nights, managing those minutes with our team, ” Bylsma said today.
The plan for Crosby tonight is to play under 18 minutes but those minutes could increase due to power play time. On Monday night, Crosby saw 15:54 of ice time and 4:23 on the power play.
“I would still like to see him be under the 18 minute mark for the next couple of games. (Don’t hold me to that promise), ” Bylsma added. “But playing four in six nights, that is a lot of hockey being played back to back. There’s a concern about those situations and we’ll try to minimize them or make sure he stays relatively fresh when he’s on the ice.”

Bylsma’s longterm plan is to lean heavily on Malkin, Staal & Crosby

The Penguins coaching staff this summer forumulated a plan that when this roster is healthy, they intend to use Malkin, Staal and Crosby like the Tampa Bay Lightning use Steven Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis.

You could tell today during Bylsma’s media session that he can’t wait to unleash that type of attack.
Bylsma indicated today that the plan is to have Crosby, Malkin and Staal all play with each other in different situations, with each player playing around 20 minutes.
According to Bylsma, those plans could include, Malkin and Crosby seeing time together like they currently do, Staal centering Malkin and it has even been discussed in the past of Sidney Crosby playing a shift or two at wing with Jordan Staal at center.
Right now the Penguins aren’t quite there due to Sidney Crosby just getting back into action, but a few weeks from now, the 4th line center might barely see the ice
“I don’t think we’re quite there yet, ” Bylsma said. “But, yes, I think when it’s all said and done Jordan Staal, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are all going to be playing around 20 minutes.
“That means either the 4th line center is not going to play at all or people are going to have to be moved in different situations where they’re on the ice at the same time.
“I would expect to see {Sidney Crosby} with {Evgeni Malkin} like we have in the past in certain circumstances and probably more often than we have in the past, seeing {Jordan Staal} play center with {Evgeni Malkin} at the wing. Even entertained in the summertime {about} the possibility of 87 playing wing for a shift or two with 11 as a center.
“But with those things, I think we’re not totally there yet in terms of minutes for the players. We saw it last game where 87 played with 71 for two shifts in the third period. We’ll see that again. We’ll see other combinations.”

Tidbits

— The St. Louis Blues are a hard working group defensively and they are giving up just 25.6 shots per game. Pittsburgh comes into tonight’s game averaging 34.5 shots in their last 10 games and have fired 32 shots or more in all 10 games.
Matt Niskanen is quietly a plus-7 on the season, second on the team and first among defensemen. Scouts feel he has simplified his game and is not overthinking like he did last season in the Penguins system, which was a struggle for him.
Zbynek Michalek will appear in his 500th career game tonight.
— Dan Bylsma claims that he is going gametime with his lineup. The four lines were the same in the morning skate.

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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