by Tony on 12/04/13 at 02:51 PM ET
Seems like a decade ago when the Penguins had a pretty damn formidable 3rd line of Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy. Throw in Max Talbot in there as well for good measure.
Call me crazy, but in this schmuck's opinion, it may have very well been those four guys that allowed the Penguins to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup on June 12, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
It was the 3rd line's job to attempt to shutdown the Wings' own "two-headed monster" of Pavel Datsyuk (admittedly hobbled) and Henrik Zetterberg. And, as we know, it was Talbot, and not Sidney Crosby nor Evgeni Malkin, who provided all of the offense in Game 7 with his two goals that glorious night.
Now, of course, they're all gone. Some to richer contracts, some to greener pastures.
Now, five seasons removed, is it just me or are the Penguins still trying to find even a decent third line, much less a bottom six?
Yeah, things are starting to roll again for the Pens as all of their horses on offense are healthy now. So, yeah, some might say I'm reaching. I'll grant ya that.
But due to whatever reason, I always seem recently to pinpoint the Pens' bottom six, starting with their 3rd line, that may ultimately be the Pens' Achilles heel. Maybe not now, but come playoff time, when it really counts.
GMRS and HCDB have regularly tinkered time and time again with ham-n-eggers on both the 3rd and 4th lines. And with only a few exceptions, they've stuck to the Bylsma script of:
Jayson Megna. Chris Conner. Brian Gibbons. Harry Zolnierczyk. Joe Vitale. Chuck Kobasew. Zach Sill.
And on and on and on.
The advantages are pretty obvious. The Penguins game is a speed game. Theoretically, HCDB wants that speed to provide a good forecheck on the opponent's defense, thereby generating turnovers and chances for the Pens' high-flying wingers.
Thing is, I'm just not seeing it.
While the speed is there, I'm not seeing not much else with that bottom six. I'm not seeing any deterrent. I'm not seeing any intimidation. At all.
I'm envisioning a hypothetical Eastern Conference rematch vs. Boston. Do you really think this bottom six matches up at all with a team like the Bruins, assuming both of them get that far?
I mean, strictly statistically speaking, the Pens are among the top group in the NHL in the hits category. Tanner Glass is finally doing something, and is among the league leaders in hits. But that in itself isn't nearly enough to cut the mustard when it comes to any form of playoff intimidation. Now, the Pens top two forward lines? Oh yeah, those boys can be intimidating, especially how they're rolling now.
So I guess what I'm saying is that I'd like to see GMRS toughen up the Penguins at this year's trade deadline. We'll just have to see about that.
- 87, 71 and 18 are pretty good. Film at 11.
- Marc-Andre Fleury is still performing well, as I thought he would. After all, it's still the regular season. Once again, this is all gravy until the playoffs start for MAF.
- Pascal Dupuis' lack of scoring has gotten a little concerning. He's busting his butt just as much as he always has, but not only hasn't he scored, he's not even generating scoring chances. That said, I'd be shocked if HCDB pulls him off the 1st line for any length of time.
- Like many others, I remain baffled as to why Robert Bortuzzo continues to be healthy scratched. At the very least, he should be given some games replacing Deryk Engelland. But no.
Statistically, the Pens are performing closely to how they did last season, in things such as:
- 8th in Hits
- 9th in Blocked Shots
- 17th in Missed Shots
- 29th in Takeaways (!)
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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