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Bylsma praises ‘formidable’ Bennett-Sutter-Stempniak line

Apr 17, 2014, 12:03 AM EDT

Bylsma Getty Images

Dan Bylsma might’ve found himself something just one game into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Penguins coach shuffled his forwards in Wednesday’s 4-3 series-opening win over Columbus, and the result was a dynamic performance from the third line of Brandon Sutter, Beau Bennett and Lee Stempniak, who combined for two goals, three points, six shots on net and six hits.

“It was a formidable line,” Bylsma said following the game. “They had the game-winner with Beau passing to [Sutter]. I liked what Beau brought to the third line.”

Bennett, 22, slogged through an injury-plagued season that saw him miss 11 games with a lower-body issue and another 51 after undergoing wrist surgery. The ’10 first-round pick never really had a chance to establish himself in the lineup or find consistent linemates, so the development with Sutter and Stempniak could be big, especially for a Pittsburgh team that failed to provide secondary scoring in last year’s Eastern Conference final after the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were neutralized.

Another pleasant development for Pittsburgh was the play of Sutter, who had something of a disappointing season with just 26 points and a minus-9 rating.

“I thought we played great,” Sutter said. “We flipped the lines around tonight but for the most part, I thought we did a good job. We can definitely be an effective line and we’re good defensively, and that’s what we need.”


  1. bencia823 - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:07 AM

    great job from this line, but we’ve already seen that Gibbons is not effective on the Crosby line, and we will likely need to take Stemp or Beau back to put with Sid and Kuni

    • c9castine - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:20 AM

      im not sure what your talking about. gibbons is actually very effective on the crosby line.

      • bencia823 - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:39 AM

        were you actually watching the Penguins this season, or do you just watch them during the playoffs? Gibbons had an extended amount of time to try to fit in with Crosby, and he failed to do so. Crosby’s least productive stretch of the year came after Dupuis got injured and Gibbons took over. This is why the Pens immediately put Stempniak and Bennett on that line as they became available.

      • c9castine - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:53 AM

        haha funny story about that watching thing actually….

        anyway your plain wrong. ignoring all the other stuff in your post, crosby had 13 pts in 7 games after the Dupuis injury. and Gibby has 17 pts in 41 games not bad for a guy who has only those games in his NHL career, was all over the lineup and back and forth between AHL and NHL.

      • bencia823 - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:14 AM

        Gibbons wasn’t the first one to get a chance with sid. Megna and Conner also had looks on the Crosby line. There is no denying the fact that the Crosby-Kunitz-Gibbons line was unsuccessful this season while it lasted. The Malkin line had to carry the team for much of the time that pairing was together.

      • c9castine - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:00 AM

        I fail to see how your characterization of that line being unsuccessful can be named fact.

        It sounds a whole lot like an opinion to me.

      • bencia823 - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:15 AM

        I don’t have a website where I can (or know how to) find all of the stats from all of the games this season. What I do have is hundreds of hours spent watching the Penguins play this season. Talk to anybody else this year, and they will also tell you that the Kunitz-Crosby-Gibbons line was a failure, and they may also have more stats to back that up. Do you remember how effective the Crosby line was in the Stadium Series (or any other nationally televised Pens game you saw while Gibbons was on the first pairing)?

      • c9castine - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:48 AM

        it does not need to be a nationally televised game. i have watched every game the penguins have played for the last 4 years, i employ my DVR very well. it seems like a lot of people are disagreeing with you, so telling me to ask anybody else is futile. the line is not a failure and you have absolutely no measurable evidence to back that up i did however provide you with some concrete evidence to back up my opinion that it is not and was not a failure. end.

    • elmerbrownelmerbrown - Apr 17, 2014 at 6:10 AM

      Bylsma is alway telling everybody how good his team is ,,,,win a cup then !

      • handsofsweed - Apr 17, 2014 at 7:18 AM

        You mean “again.”

      • hockey412 - Apr 17, 2014 at 7:57 AM

        They’re trying, eiggles.

      • ibieiniid - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:05 PM

        is that who that is?

      • elmerbrownelmerbrown - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        Hes got one big friggin deal hes been favored for like the last 5 years

    • hockey412 - Apr 17, 2014 at 8:01 AM

      You know I was reading you and c9’s comments, I actually agree with both of you. It’s got to be frustrating for Sid. Ok we’re finally just going to give up on getting me a right wing and keep Dupuis over there…he’s hurt…we’ve tried 3 third line wingers, they didn’t work…Stempniak works, Bennett works…now ok you’re going to take BOTH of them away to make the third line stronger?

      But, on the other side, it worked last night. Gibbons is playing a different game than he did 2 months ago…the last three weeks the guy has more heart than anyone on the ice. I’m nervous about it, but give it a shot. He almost buried one last night by getting to the net.

      I don’t know about Bylsma’s decisions on ‘shaking things up’, but I’ve been sickened by the lack of depth scoring this year – it’s not going to get it done and he knows that. Maybe this will work.

      • c9castine - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        people are making too big a deal about who plays on Sid’s right and it really has got to be the area of least concern for this team. that line will produce regardless. if you can put some super fast guy there to disrupt things then the line is basically complete. thats all it takes.

        clearly we need a 3rd line that can score and this trio seems like a group that can get it done. the way he arranged his lines just flat out makes sense…tanner glass is very valuable to this team, but as a 4th liner. a bruiser who can skate really well and make strong puck plays. thats all you need down there and hes reliable at it.

        not sure why people want to write off gibbons, despite his solid .5 pt per game production, but it doesnt matter. dan is going to put him there and hell continue to prove people wrong.

    • gsr1191 - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:59 AM

      who cares how gibbons played on the line in the regular season. he played great yesterday. he had some chances, helped setup some chances and drew a penalty. also was nice in the D zone last night.
      I was not happy when they first put him out there last night on the 1st line, but in the end he played well and proved me wrong. Might as well keep going with it if it works.

      • theageofquarrel - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        And that speed of Gibbons is going to keep drawing penalties.

  2. c9castine - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:21 AM

    beau bennett is a top shelf talent i dont think it matters where he plays.

    its a shame he has had such a hard time staying healthy the past few years but with only 40 some NHL games under his belt, hes already showing he is going to become a top NHL scorer sooner rather than later.

    • bencia823 - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:43 AM

      It’s probably better if he’s on the 3rd, because he wont be able to handle the puck as much playing with Sid or Geno

    • hockey412 - Apr 17, 2014 at 8:02 AM

      Maybe he could hit people just a tad easier though…holy smack that was a hard hit. He’s going to hurt himself!

      • c9castine - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:13 PM

        im constantly waiting for him to just, break. he plays a hard game for a guy who is always broken.

  3. penzfan329 - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:33 AM

    Yea gibbons was looking good. He had a great game. Not sure what you was watching lol

    • bencia823 - Apr 17, 2014 at 12:42 AM

      I was watching the other 82 games they played this year, including the time between when Dupuis went down and when Stempniak was acquired from Calgary. Gibbons was highly ineffective as the 3rd piece of our top line then, and I don’t expect him to be much more productive now as goals become even harder to come by

      • c9castine - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:01 AM

        well, gibbons played in 41 of those. stempniak like, what, 20? bennett like, 10ish. sooooo

        not to mention, i tore down your evidence when i stated the fact that sid had 13 pts in 7 games during that time period, and im not sure what gibbons numbers were because they are unavailable but if i remember correctly he had a couple goals and points and managed to keep himself here for most of the rest of the year.

      • bencia823 - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:21 AM

        Gibbons hardly averaged 1 shot per game while playing with sid, and was extremely ineffective on the top line. Sid and Kunitz have been far more successful with almost every other winger this season, and the lack of 5 on 5 success from the first line in this game comes as no surprise. As it turns out, the Penguins have a pretty good power play, and Sid generates a lot of points there that have nothing to do with who he is paired with during 5 on 5 play

  4. chanceoffleury - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:21 AM

    They provided the exact kind of secondary scoring the Pens are gonna need all playoffs long. Especially if they get deep. It’s been one of the Pens’ biggest problems since Staal left and it’s seemingly gone unaddressed until recently. Sutter’s been having a heck of a past 2 months. Good for him! Adams was creating some good offensive chances, too. Awesome to see the depth guys making a difference right from the start! Bennett and Stempniak give Sutter the scoring options he hasn’t had on that line since he’s gotten here. Even though it’s still too early to get too excited, it’s definitely something that gives me hope to believe maybe this year is gonna be a little different.

  5. blitzburghpd - Apr 17, 2014 at 6:38 AM

    Adding Gibbons was great. He plays with speed and actually forechecks. Something this team has been missing all season. Say what you want about point production, it willc. One if they keep them together. But if you keep stemp-Sutter-beau together, teams will be forced to use some of this defensive dogs on them and keep them away from Crosby.

    • c9castine - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      people forget forechecking doesnt always mean you go lay people out. taking the puck away is even better….he gets in peoples faces so fast they get confused and cough the puck up.

  6. bobc74 - Apr 17, 2014 at 7:33 AM

    Why are we arguing about the Crosby line? The story is about Bylsma shuffling lines during a game. Let me repeat that, Bylsma shuffled lines during a playoff game. Maybe they actually do want to win this year.

  7. blynasty - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    The bigger concern is whether or not Letang had another stroke last night… Talk about a bad game from a guy who will be heavily relied upon if this team is going to make it to the Cup Finals. Fleury looked shaky in the 1st but got his control back. Defense still has to be better. Columbus Defense looked like the Bruins blocking shot after shot from the point. Pens look like Swiss Cheese.

  8. penguins87and71 - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    I like Gibbons, his a great role player, but his not a 1st line guy, I think Stempniak should be on the top line, and maybe Beau Bennett, but when Stempniak was playing on the top line with Crosby and Kunitz, that line was pretty hard to stop. I think a line with Gibbons-Sutter-Bennett is not that bad of a 3rd line.

    • dwmccu - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:03 PM

      Have to disagree, kind of. Kunitz and Crosby are both great puck handlers and scorers, Gibbons brings speed that Stempniak can’t, which gives the defense something else to worry about. Likewise, Stempniak can stickhandle and shoot better than Gibbons, and that depth is needed. It’s tricky, but I was glad to see Bylsma adjust for once.

  9. har21441 - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    Gibbons is Bylsma’s pet project and the Pens are worse off because of it. He hardly belongs on an NHL roster, let alone playing wing to the best player in hockey.

    Bennett was a first round draft pick. You don’t draft a winger in the first round to play on your third line.

    My take is that by the end of the playoffs the total number of combined goals between the 1st and 3rd line would be greater with Bennett on the 1st line.

    • hockey412 - Apr 17, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      Can’t win in the playoffs without depth. If you don’t really have depth, you need to manufacturer it.

    • dwmccu - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:06 PM

      They had no choice but to bring him up because of the 500+ man games lost this season. He stayed there for a reason. Just because he doesn’t make fancy plays doesn’t mean he doesn’t belong there, his speed is a headache for the defense when they have to worry about him getting to the puck and feeding it back to Crosby or Kunitz.

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