Aug 26, 2014, 8:30 PM EST
Evgeni Malkin meshed well with James Neal and Jussi Jokinen last season, but neither of his wingers are returning to Pittsburgh for 2014-15. As a result, one of Mike Johnston’s first tasks as Pittsburgh’s new bench boss will be remaking the second line.
Rather than focus on three-forward units, Johnston is more interested in finding at least one winger that each center can count on playing with regularly and then change up the third player as the situation warrants. The idea is that it will provide each line with a degree of stability without completely sacrificing flexibility. So for example, Johnston likes the way Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby play together, so they’re projected to typically make up two-thirds of the first line.
Before his 2013-14 campaign was cut short due to a knee injury, Pascal Dupuis was typically the third man on that top unit, but that might not be the case under Johnston.
“(Dupuis) can play anywhere in the lineup,” Johnston told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He certainly has played well with Sid before. Can he play well with (Malkin)? That’s what we’ve got to see.”
Patric Hornqvist, who was acquired from Nashville in the Neal trade, is another serious contender to be Malkin’s partner.
Although neither is likely to start the season as Malkin’s full-time linemate, 22-year-old Beau Bennett and 2014 first round draft pick Kasperi Kapanen will also be watched closely during training camp to see where — and in Kapanen’s case if — they might fit in.
Regardless of who Johnston picks, the bigger question regarding Malkin is his health. He was limited to 60 games last season and has a lengthy history of injuries. If he stays healthy, he’ll likely be effective with almost any wingers, but if he keeps ending up on the sidelines then obviously it won’t matter who he’s been paired with.
Jan 30, 2015, 1:01 PM EST
Xavier Ouellet sticking around?
Jan 30, 2015, 12:52 PM EST
Pittsburgh d-man won’t play tonight against New Jersey.
Jan 30, 2015, 12:39 PM EST
They play in Vancouver tonight.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:42 AM EST
Ducks and Rangers have been hot.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:37 AM EST
Just one day after Artem Anisimov drew back into the lineup.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:21 AM EST
St. Louis’ forward depth about to be tested.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:06 AM EST
Rangers d-man has struggled to get games recently.
Jan 30, 2015, 10:33 AM EST
74-year-old was the first player to ever have his jersey retired by the organization.
Jan 30, 2015, 10:19 AM EST
Will he make his NHL debut?
Jan 30, 2015, 9:56 AM EST
There’s lots of interest in him, but teams that see him as a rental might balk at that price.
Jan 30, 2015, 9:02 AM EST
Both are out Friday.
Jan 30, 2015, 8:04 AM EST
Friday’s collection of links.
Jan 30, 2015, 12:17 AM EST
Head coach Mike Yeo said he earned that goose egg, too.
Jan 29, 2015, 11:47 PM EST
So much for some rest for Frederik Andersen.
Jan 29, 2015, 11:17 PM EST
Two youngsters change teams.
Jan 29, 2015, 10:22 PM EST
A bit of a statement from Tampa Bay?
Jan 29, 2015, 9:51 PM EST
A bitter game at times.
Jan 29, 2015, 9:44 PM EST
Oliver Ekman-Larsson catches him sleeping.
Jan 29, 2015, 9:33 PM EST
Another strong game on NBCSN.
Jan 29, 2015, 8:49 PM EST
Nice applause in his return to Ottawa.
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