Talbot to make season debut against Ottawa
While defenseman Jay McKee (out 2-4 weeks) is the newest member to go down with an injury, Pittsburgh is slowly getting healthier.
Forward Max Talbot (shoulder surgery) will make his season debut against Ottawa and defenseman Sergei Gonchar will return to the lineup after missing 12 games with a broken wrist.
Talbot’s last game in a Penguins uniform was a memorable one, scoring the game winning goal in the Penguins game 7 clinching Stanley Cup win.
Talbot’s return to the lineup Thursday night will give the Penguins some much needed flexibility. Talbot has earned the right to get a shot as a top two line winger but his versatility is the most important asset of his game.
Talbot will play on a line with Matt Cooke and Criag Adams against Ottawa and when the Penguins get closer to full health, Talbot gives the coaching staff a number of options that they can explore.
Option 1: Split up Malkin and Crosby
Playing Crosby and Malkin together has sparked the Penguins offense which has scored 11 goals in two games.
But, with Talbot returning and Chris Kunitz about 10 days away from returning, Bylsma will have the opportunity to have his top two lines from Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final together for the first time this season.
Kunitz – Crosby – Guerin
Fedotenko – Malkin – Talbot
Option 2: Talbot to center 3rd line
Malkin and Crosby have played well together for the short-term and it may be too early to split them up. Malkin is creating space for Crosby and the Penguins are 2-0 since the two were put on a line.
Talbot has been told he will see time at center and at wing. He is a very serviceable third line center and Talbot gives Bylsma the option of keeping Crosby and Malkin together for the time being and continue to use Jordan Staal as the second line center.
The coaching staff will take it slow with Talbot for the first week or two but his versatility gives the Penguins options to play him in any kind role and play significant minutes on the penalty kill.