After posting just 7-shots in the final 42-minutes of Game 1, the Penguins are wasting no time in making adjustments. At practice on Sunday, Coach Therrien juggled the lines in an apparent effort to shake things up a bit and to give the Penguins a different look. The practice session on Sunday is a likely a preview to what we will see in Game 2 on Monday night. The Coach’s theme for Sunday’s practice was effort and desire, two things that seemed to wane after the first period of Game 1. In the first period the Penguins looked competitive and hungry, but as the game progressed they stopped skating and started watching too much.
If the lines used in practice hold for Game 2, you can expect to see some interesting changes for Monday night. First, expect to see Sidney Crosby centering Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone. I like this combination as it adds a new dimension to the Penguins top line that may pay dividends. In addition to the speed and playmaking abilities of Crosby and Hossa, you now have Ryan Malone who can post his big body in front of the netminder and give the Detroit defense another element to worry about.
Pascal Dupuis will be moved to a new Penguins second line, centered by Jordan Staal with Tyler Kennedy on the opposite wing. Again, this is another interesting matchup as the long reach and excellent defensive abilities of Jordan Staal will be teamed with the speed and energy of Dupuis and Kennedy.
This means that Evgeni Malkin will now center the 3rd line as he has been struggling of late. He will be flanked by energy man Max Talbot and sniper Petr Sykora. It will be interesting to see what moving him to the 3rd line will do as far as Detroit’s line matchups. Whether Malkin is ailing or just in a funk, the move will either serve to release a little bit of pressure or motivate him to to step his game back up. Again, it will be interesting to see how Detroit reacts to Malkin’s new location in the lineup.
Finally, the Penguins will put 42-year-old Gary Roberts back into the lineup and sit Georges Laraque. Roberts, an experienced and gritty forward, has had a difficult year as he dealt with a broken leg and a high ankle sprain that kept him out of the lineup for the 2nd half of the season. During the Eastern Conference Finals, he again sat out with a bout of pneumonia. Although healthy enough to play on Saturday, Roberts was a healthy scratch. That won’t be the case for Game 2, when Roberts will join fiesty Jarkko Ruutu and Adam Hall on the 4th line. “I’m excited. For me, bringing some emotion, some intensity. I’m obviously not going to change my game at this point. I know what I need to do to be successful. This team we’re playing against is really smart.”
The Penguins will be looking to turn things around in Game 2 and find a way to steal one in Detroit before heading back to Pittsburgh. If Coach Therrien can motivate his team to put in a full 60-minutes of effort like they produced in the first period of Game 1, they could generate a very different outcome. With the line changes and some motivating forces, it will be interesting to see if the adjustments being made by the Penguins coaching staff will yield dividends for the young team. The only way to the Stanley Cup for the Penguins is to win at least 1-game in Detroit. They need to believe that the 1-win must come on Monday night.