Coaches now eye Rust spark to top line?
Bryan Rust in two games since returning to the lineup and playing on a line with Derick Brassard and Phil Kessel:
2 Goals and 1 Assist, all at even strength.
The third line of Rust-Brassard-Kessel had some dominating moments on the ice in an OT loss to the Rangers Wednesday night and 5-3 win against the Canadiens the following night but getting the Sidney Crosby line going remains a priority for the coaching staff.
With the Penguins entering a four games in six day stretch this week, the Rust-Brassard-Kessel line might be getting broken up.
Today in practice saw Rust move back up to the top line with Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby.
Conor Sheary skated on the third line with Brassard and Kessel.
If this sticks for tomorrow night against the Islanders, it will be an interesting decision to break up a good thing the third line has going since Rust has joined the line.
Rust has brought out more in Derick Brassard’s game too these last two games where the Penguins are driving possession at 65% with Rust and Brassard on the ice together.
But, Sheary’s up and down play was always going to make it a dicey situation that Rust-Brassard-Kessel would stay together for a significant stretch of games.
Tentative Plan is to start Murray 3 out of 4 games this week
Matt Murray is on track to return to the lineup this week and the tentative plan is for him to see the bulk of the games during the Penguins 4 games in six day stretch (3/20 @ NYI, 3/21 vs MTL, 3/23 vs NJD, 3/25 vs PHI).
The tentative plan is for Murray to start vs the Devils Friday night and Flyers on Sunday, and what the coaches have been weighing is whether to start tomorrow night vs the Islanders instead of Wednesday to spread the starts out a bit in his return.[/hide]
The primary target date was initially Wednesday vs Montreal but there’s been discussions of going Tuesday – Friday – Sunday for Murray,[hide] a reason Sullivan confirmed Sunday Murray hasn’t been ruled out against the Islanders.
Sprong’s Learning Curve Continues
Another injury to a Penguins forward, this time Carter Rowney again who will miss at least a couple weeks, and for the Penguins again recalling Daniel Sprong wasn’t a consideration.
Sprong was a healthy scratch Saturday night vs Hershey, despite scoring Friday night for the second time in 16 games, but the decision to scratch Sprong was said to be pre-planned in the days leading up to the game.
There’s no doubt Sprong could help the Penguins at the NHL level, but there are so many areas the Penguins feel he needs to improve away from shooting the puck that has the Penguins doing things like scratching him so he can watch a game up top with the Penguins personnel.
Sprong is a player who has a high hockey IQ off the ice, sources say, and the Penguins are adamant this approach will provide dividends in the long-run.
The next 1-2 years will tell the story.