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Weird lineup choices

November 7, 2018, 1:30 PM ET [116 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Penguins get to try and end the losing streak against their current #1 rival. That would be the Washington Capitals. Both teams are 6-4-3 and have 15 standings points. Pittsburgh is currently third in the division while the Capitals are out of the playoffs due to tie breakers. We’ve got a long way to go before either of these two teams are in danger of missing the playoff. However, the point is that neither team is dominant to start the year.

Pittsburgh’s score-adjusted Corsi this year is 49.09 and Washington is at 49.87 so neither team has shown any kind of sustained success in driving play.

The Penguins recalled Zach Aston-Reese and Garrett Wilson from the Baby Penguins. Derek Grant will be heading back to WB/S for the time being. I think calling up Aston-Reese was overdue. Although, I don’t think it matters if the coaching staff doesn’t make their decisions based on quality of play. If players like Matt Cullen and Jack Johnson get a free pass the entire year you are just shuffling deck chairs on the titanic.

Here’s a look at what the Penguins looked like at practice yesterday




Cringy stuff. Sidney Crosby on the second power play? Bryan Rust on the first power play? Neutering Kris Letang? Good grief.

I understand splitting Geno and Phil, but not if the third line center is Riley Sheahan. I think there are other avenues that could have been taken. For example

Guentzel-Crosby-Hornqvist
Hagelin-Malkin-Kessel
Simon-Sheahan-Rust
ZAR-Cullen-Sprong

Listen, I don’t like this setup either to be honest. At least with this one you have two line combos you know work for sure. The Guentzel-Crosby-Hornqvist line was very good in the playoffs. The bottom six is going to be a crapshoot until Brassard gets back. That’s the fact of life.

Another idea would be to give Daniel Sprong a look in the top six whether he “deserves” it or not. It’s time to learn what you really have. Playing with Cullen gets us no closer to an actual answer

Guentzel-Crosby-Sprong
Hagelin-Malkin-Hornqvist
Rust-Sheahan-Kessel
ZAR-Cullen-Simon

Simon has played well. I don’t love the “demotion” I’ve given him, but I need to learn about Sprong. If you’re going to be random and just look to see what sticks let’s make it functional. Pushing off the Sprong stuff is the same thing as what they did with Pouliot. Not every player is going to be the player you wanted them to be. It’s foolish to not try and find the answer to these things sooner than later.

The four scoring line approach doesn’t look so hot without Brassard and Conor Sheary. Hopefully nobody else gets hurt.

Thanks for reading!
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