Are lineup changes likely from the Penguins in Game 3 after a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 2?. If we’re to go off how Bylsma reacted after losses in the first round vs the Islanders last post-season, than yes. However, it remains to be seen if any will be bold ones.
Looking back at last post-season, after a Game 2 loss to the Islanders, one notable change from Bylsma was sitting Deryk Engelland and putting Simon Despres in the lineup in Game 3. Following a Game 4 loss to the Islanders, Bylsma inserted Tyler Kennedy for Jussi Jokinen in Game 5, and Simon Despres in for Mark Eaton, after Despres was scratched again in Game 4.
As we look ahead to Game 3, one lineup change will likely at least be injury related for the Penguins. Brian Gibbons who left Game 2 with a neck injury is “day to day”. The word today is that he’s unlikely to play in Game 3 as he’s dealing with some stiffness, but has not yet been ruled out.
Jason Megna or Taylor Pyatt will draw into the lineup if Gibbons can’t go, though, there is talk of Chris Conner rejoining the team from his conditioning assignment. If Gibbons can’t go, will the lineup changes stop there?
There is certainly some chatter of Kris Letang being in contention to sit tomorrow night. It’s a been a discussion, a source believes, but would Bylsma really have it in him to sit Letang? Probably not. One team source feels Letang looked “spent” on the ice in Game 2 and could use a night off because of his situation.
Letang’s been an absolute train wreck through the first two games. In his first three games back in the regular season following his stroke, Letang looked to be in top form offensively but his defensive play was up and down. His play in his own end has not improved through two playoff games, been worse, and he couldn’t even handle the puck in Game 2.
It’s a perfect opportunity for the coaches to sit him one game, hope he rejuvenates and come back to him in Game 4.
What’s concerning with Letang is this might not just be him in the process of still trying to knock off some of the rust. How he’s played in the first two games is the Kris Letang’s we’ve seen in the post-season in years past. Erratic and careless with the puck.
Benching Letang for just one night in favor of Robert Bortuzzo would be a very bold move but the right one. The Penguins could use some attitude and physicality in their lineup with Bortuzzo.
Meanwhile, the million dollar question with Bylsma and his staff is whether they can let go of their admiration of Craig Adams at somepoint this series and do what’s right for this hockey club and get another forward in their for Adams.
Adams has become a huge liability for the Penguins in all facets. An Eastern Conference scout who saw the Penguins play around 15 times this season, pretty much summed things up on Adams.
“The guy just can’t play anymore,” the scout said. “Pit is playing with 11 forwards every night.”
As unbelievable as this might sound, there’s a better chance of Kris Letang sitting than Adams at any point in this series.