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.
Dec 22, 2014, 8:54 AM EST
Brian Gionta was injured as a result of the blow.
Dec 22, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Monday’s collection of links.
Dec 22, 2014, 12:16 AM EST
He’s the oldest goalie to win his debut since Hugh Lehman in 1926.
Dec 21, 2014, 10:38 PM EST
Buffalo suffered its third straight loss.
Dec 21, 2014, 10:07 PM EST
Toronto has lost three straight games.
Dec 21, 2014, 9:42 PM EST
Will this be the worst season Edmonton has ever had?
Dec 21, 2014, 9:09 PM EST
Varlamov is expected to be back on Tuesday.
Dec 21, 2014, 8:17 PM EST
Bartkowski received a game misconduct.
Dec 21, 2014, 7:39 PM EST
The Stars swapping goaltenders didn’t slow Edmonton.
Dec 21, 2014, 6:48 PM EST
He had been playing with Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg.
Dec 21, 2014, 5:56 PM EST
The Hurricanes are getting close to full strength.
Dec 21, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
Will Calvin Pickard be sent to the minors once Varlamov is healthy?
Dec 21, 2014, 3:45 PM EST
Rob Zepp makes NHL debut
Dec 21, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
Collapsed on the team’s bench Saturday night.
Dec 21, 2014, 2:15 PM EST
Was fired by the Oilers Dec. 15.
Dec 21, 2014, 1:30 PM EST
The 33-year-old was recalled Friday.
Dec 21, 2014, 12:45 PM EST
The Penguins forward was penalized twice for embellishment on Saturday.
Dec 21, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
Torrey Mitchell and Tyson Strachan have been placed on IR
Dec 21, 2014, 11:15 AM EST
They’re not impressed with how Bylsma and his staff were treated.
Dec 21, 2014, 10:30 AM EST
He called it “no big deal”
- Flyers rally as Zepp wins his career debut at 33 years old 12
- Oilers squander three-goal lead, lose 18th time in 19 games 10
- Pickard makes one last bid to stay, beats Wings in nine-round SO 5
- Video: Bartkowski delivers controversial hit to Gionta, fights Foligno 29
- Giroux line takes Leafs ‘to school’ in Flyers’ 7-4 victory 17
- Wolverine Pacioretty gets two assists just two days after being hospitalized 18
- Ovechkin scores beauty as Caps shutout Devils 8
- Seriously? Stress fracture sidelines Columbus’ Jenner for 1-2 months 6
- Julien chides Bruins’ offense for too many cute plays 40
- Sens roll over Ducks, who ‘weren’t ready’ 11