Aug 26, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
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.
May 23, 2015, 12:26 AM EDT
But will it last?
May 22, 2015, 11:42 PM EDT
Kucherov, Paquette, and Glass all receive misconduct penalties.
May 22, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT
The score was one-sided, but this game could have gone the other way if not for the Rangers’ netminder.
May 22, 2015, 10:40 PM EDT
Leon Draisaitl’s late goal can’t turn the tide.
May 22, 2015, 9:53 PM EDT
Keith Yandle got his first marker of the playoffs.
May 22, 2015, 9:04 PM EDT
Will we see more goals like that from him before the playoffs are over?
May 22, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT
All three of their teams are still in the running for the Stanley Cup.
May 22, 2015, 7:35 PM EDT
San Jose has been linked to several high profile coaches.
May 22, 2015, 6:31 PM EDT
He was credited with turning around the Red Wings’ power play.
May 22, 2015, 6:01 PM EDT
Will New York be able to contain Tampa Bay this time around?
May 22, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
“No one wants to back up. Everyone wants to play.”
May 22, 2015, 4:34 PM EDT
Not only did the Ducks block 27 shots last night, they clogged up the neutral zone too.
May 22, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT
Can’t imagine Teuvo Teravainen was, either.
May 22, 2015, 2:24 PM EDT
Canucks GM witnessed the goalie get a shutout in the AHL playoffs.
May 22, 2015, 1:41 PM EDT
Coach Q: “He’ll need a few days out here. We’ll get an evaluation and go from there.”
May 22, 2015, 1:38 PM EDT
Son of ex-NHLer Brian is off to Boston University next year.
May 22, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT
“It’s been real special, to say the least.”
May 22, 2015, 12:47 PM EDT
The third ‘tender taken at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft had a rough first pro season in North America.
May 22, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
Finnish forward joined the organization last year after solid production in the SM-liiga.
May 22, 2015, 12:21 PM EDT
That’s him, with Vladimir Putin.
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