by Tony on 10/29/08 at 09:24 PM ET
One day after an absolutely putrid effort in San Jose, one in which his Pittsburgh Penguins only got 11 shots on goal, Head Coach Michel Therrien (known amongst Penguins’ blogs as HCMT, get used to it) has done yet again what he does best: He completely shuffled his top three lines.
In HCMT’s defense (which I don’t do very often, once again, get used to it), it’s not like he had much of a choice.
In the Penguins’ first 10 games, they have a mediocre total of 25 goals. Moreover, of those 25 goals, only 13 of those have come 5 on 5.
While the dynamic duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, naturally, has been at times sensational, everyone realizes that keeping them on the top line together is not the optimum solution. The Penguins need to have that hard-hitting 1-2 line punch to minimize the affect of the top defensive line. Make your opposition pick their poison, so to speak.
So now, HCMT has juggled the top three lines in an attempt to, once again, jumpstart this extremely underperforming offense.
On the top line, Crosby’s linemates (at least to start) for Thursday night’s game in Phoenix will be Pascal Dupuis and Ruslan Fedotenko. In what certainly isn’t a coincidence, those two have been among the very few that have actually gotten some decent scoring opportunities on net lately. Fedotenko has been placed on all four lines this season already, but lately he has increased his intensity and Therrien is obviously rewarding him for it. NOTE: Dan Potash reported on FSN Pittsburgh tonight that Dupuis only skated for half of the practice today. The team did not disclose if he’s injured, and if so, how badly. So it’s possible that this first line will have to be changed again.
Malkin will be bumped down to his normal assignment of centering the second line, where his linemates now will be the familiar Petr Sykora and the rugged Matt Cooke. Sykora, who’s been hurt for a few games this year, only has one goal so far, however Cooke not only is leading the team in hits along with Brooks Oprik, but has impressed the coaching staff with his offensive capability.
The biggest question mark continues to be the goose egg on the scoresheet for Jordan Staal. Not only isn’t he scoring, he’s barely hitting the goaltender. He was given a chance by Therrien to center the second line, but after that went nowhere, he’s back down to centering the third line again. Joining him will be Miro Satan and Tyler Kennedy. Satan actually leads the team in goals with four, but he wasn’t brought to Pittsburgh to be a third line winger. Kennedy continues to be the sparkplug of the team. I’m confident he could be placed on any line and he wouldn’t be a liability.
As any Penguins fan knows all too well, who knows how long HCMT will keep these lines as is. We’ll see tomorrow night in Phoenix.
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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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