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Pens make big line changes in practice

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have seemingly ended the Sidney Crosby + Phil Kessel experiment...For now anyways. Come look at the changes made to hopefully get the Pens out of their goal scoring rut.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Who would have ever thought that the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins would sit 29th in goals per game 7 games into the 2015-16 season? With just 8 goals in 7 games, that's exactly where they are.

Just 3 days ago we asked if it was time to split up Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel and the answer now coming from Pens practice today appears to be "yes".

If you don't know the players' numbers by heart, the lines this morning used are:

Pascal Dupuis - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Sergei Plotnikov - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel

Chris Kunitz - Nick Bonino - Daniel Sprong

David Perron - Matt Cullen - Kevin Porter / Bobby Farnham

  • Quite the fall from grace for Kunitz and Perron, but neither are generating any sort of offense (both 0 points in 7 games). In Perron's case he's directly costing the Pens goals against with turnovers and poor defensive play. His confidence can't be too great right now.
  • It took all of one game for coach Mike Johnston to have to "manage Dupuis minutes" to now playing him on Crosby's line. That was quick.
  • Speaking of minutes, Plotnikov is only playing 11:10 per night. He doesn't seem ready for full-time duty on a scoring line, so I'm guessing we'll see the struggling left-wingers (Kunitz/Perron) get a chance or two with the big guys of Geno and Phil.
  • Hornqvist + Crosby was good last season, and PH72 does seem like he could breakout, even though he hasn't produced much this season either.
  • It will be interesting to see Geno and Phil in action. In theory, their styles should mesh, like the anonymous ex-NHL coach told Elliotte Friedman, "But Kessel’s game is transition, or moving away from the puck to find space for an open shot. Crosby likes to play tight to his teammates, set up that 10-foot pass for a goal. Their games are not compatible, yet."
  • After getting back for a few practices, Sprong should be back in the lineup tomorrow night. But with Beau Bennett (RW) and Eric Fehr (a C/RW) on the mend, is there space in the lineup for Sprong past his 10th game? Doesn't seem like it at this point, but that could change.