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.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:56 AM EDT
Get out the swear jar.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:11 AM EDT
Yeah, he was.
Oct 21, 2014, 12:20 AM EDT
It finally happened and it happened with a late goal.
Oct 20, 2014, 11:57 PM EDT
Caught Taylor Hall with a heavy hit earlier in the game.
Oct 20, 2014, 11:24 PM EDT
Now, can they hang on for the win?
Oct 20, 2014, 11:07 PM EDT
Talking about the Oilers perhaps trading one of their young players.
Oct 20, 2014, 10:39 PM EDT
Heavy hit along the boards.
Oct 20, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT
That’s about as much trash talk as you’re going to get from Willie D.
Oct 20, 2014, 9:21 PM EDT
Alex Killorn is – again, this is based on same report – out of the lineup.
Oct 20, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT
“He’s got to go and maybe play out of the spotlight that we have here in Toronto.”
Oct 20, 2014, 7:57 PM EDT
“I’ve played three games and it hasn’t gone even close to the way it needs to be.”
Oct 20, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
Leafs add some organizational depth.
Oct 20, 2014, 6:06 PM EDT
Colorado, getting some good news in goal.
Oct 20, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
Caps are off on a road trip to Western Canada.
Oct 20, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT
Coach Cooper cites the long trip to Edmonton from Syracuse as reason to keep the rookie out against the Oilers.
Oct 20, 2014, 3:52 PM EDT
A fairly well-deserved honor.
Oct 20, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
News and notes from the blue paint…
Oct 20, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT
Matt Bartkowski expected to step in tomorrow versus San Jose.
Oct 20, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT
Already has seven points in seven games this season.
Oct 20, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT
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