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Coach Johnston: Kessel to start with Crosby

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The Penguins coach announces his idea of where Phil Kessel will play.

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One of the biggest questions since the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Phil Kessel would be where would he play with, on the right side of Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin? But only one person's opinion truly mattered, that of course being coach Mike Johnston, and he has weighed in.

With that being the case, Patric Hornqvist ought to be on the right wing of Malkin to start the season.

That should be a good thing as well, the two played together in limited stints last season (for a total of 222:18) but had some success. In that time, Malkin scored 6 goals and 6 assists, Hornqvist scored 4g+5a. Their Corsi For was a very strong 57.5%, and their Goals For% was 55.6. Also, encouragingly Malkin+Hornqvist had a 4.05 GF/60 while together, which was the highest for Geno for any forward linemate. Of course, they also hada 3.24 GA/60 (highest for Malkin aside from Beau Bennett, and interestingly Crosby).

The left-side of the ice has a lot more options. There's Chris Kunitz and David Perron in the mix, and it's believed that Sergei Plotnikov may have a chance to play on Malkin's line.

It will be interesting to see if the Penguins give Kunitz a chance to bounce-back and play him with Crosby once again, or if they think that Perron can provide enough two-way play and give the net-presence plus strength along the walls to help Crosby-Kessel click.

There's a long season to figure it all out, the tough part will just be waiting a couple more weeks to see it begin.