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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What the Pens Need

Last night's game was pretty bad.  It wasn't the loss, it was the way they lost.  11 shots is ridiculous.  They were simply outworked, nothing more.  Dany Sabourin made it look close, but it wasn't, not at all.

It wasn't even a case where the shot count was lopsided but the chances were close.  The Pens lost almost every one-on-one battle and they looked like they did in the first two game of the finals against the Wings.

People will say it's still early and it is and, therefore, I don't think any major changes are in order.  I don't think any trades or firings are necessary.  Two things need to be done.  First of all, someone, somehow, some way, needs to convince this team that it needs to play hard for 60 minutes in order to win.  Second, I think the lines need to be changed.  Yes, I've often been against Michel Therrien's line shuffling, but some changes are needed.

It's time to end the Crosby and Malkin on the same line experiment.  Yes, those two are getting points and playing quite well together, but their success is coming at the expense of the team's.  Petr Sykora is a complete non-factor without Malkin as his linemate.

I like Pascal Dupuis, but he can't shoot the puck to save his life.  Crosby seems determined to set up Dupuis rather than shoot himself, so the solution is twofold.  First, Crosby needs to shoot more.  Second, Dupuis needs to get off of Crosby's line.  Fedetenko looked good with Sidney last night, maybe he should be given the chance to play with him for a few games.

Also, there doesn't seem to be a point to dressing both Bissonnette and Godard.  One is enough.

Finally, I believe that Janne Pesonen should be called up in the near future.  He seems to be adapting well in the AHL and giving him a run with the Pens could pay off.  At the very least he seems like he will shoot the puck.

So.... here are my proposed line combinations:

Fedetenko - Crosby - Satan
Staal - Malkin - Sykora
Pesonen/Dupuis - Talbot - Kennedy
Cooke - Zigomanis - Godard/Bissonnette

Yes, some players are playing outside of their natural position, but I think it works.  Staal hasn't done well previously at left wing, but on a team with so many centers he should be moved there.  He needs to learn to fill the Ryan Malone role of going to the net and creating some space.

In fact, these lines look a lot like what the Pens were playing with in the preseason and the early part of the season.  I think this is the ideal lineup for the team and they should leave these guys together for at least a few games to see if they gel.  Scoring would primarily come from the first two lines, and the bottom two would be energy lines.  If Pesonen adapts well I wouldn't be against putting him on Crosby or Malkin's wing.

It feels wrong to be shuffling Dupuis into a position where he may not play every game, but it needs to be done.  He's very fast, he works hard, and he gets himself into position very well.  He just needs to shoot and shoot better.

The whole team needs to shoot more, to be honest.

Okay, I'm done acting like I know better than an NHL coach now.

Next game: the Pens play Gretzky's Coyotes in Phoenix.

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