After Wednesday’s game against the Washington Capitals, the NBC Sports announcer Doc Emrick said that the Pittsburgh Penguins were “surgical” in their play. The way the Penguins played against the Caps was just as he said, “surgical.”
How did this happen? Just a few days ago, Pens fans as well as hockey fans all over were wondering why the Pens were not scoring goals. People wanted to trade away Evgeni Malkin because people like Don Cherry made comments that he was “lazy.” Players like James Neal and Chris Kunitz just were not putting pucks in the net. Even the league’s leading point scorer, Sidney Crosby, was a little snake-bitten during that stretch.
Then coach Dan Bylsma and his staff decided to finally change up the lines. He moved Pascal Dupuis from the Crosby and Kunitz line to the Malkin and Neal line. He also moved Beau Bennett to the Crosby line and moved Jussi Jokinen to the third line with Brandon Sutter. Fans and media alike have been calling for these moves for a long time and it finally happened. In a strange course of events, after these moves the Pens started scoring goals! How did this happen?
My opinion on why this is working heading into the Pens game Friday against the New York Islanders is because the players are forced to focus more and do the little things right. When the lines were the way the players were used to seeing them, the players seemed to do too much to try to score goals. These players have seen one another make highlight reel plays and seemed to think that was the thing they needed to do to break out of their scoring slump. Now the players are on new lines and need to do the little things right. It’s like dating someone new: you have to take things slow and do all the right things so that you do not screw things up. That is exactly what the Pens are doing. You know something? It seems to be working; just ask the Capitals and the Anaheim Ducks.
Going into Friday night’s game against the Islanders, the Pens are on a little bit of a roll. Hopefully for them this roll can continue and these new lines can mesh and help these known stars to dominate play once again.