After notching an assist last game, Evgeni Malkin is about to draw even with Jaromir Jagr in Penguins’ franchise history for points.
Malkin is also sitting at 73 career game winning goals, the most in franchise history is Mario Lemieux’s 74.
And, judging by the morning skate, Malkin might be doing so with some very interesting new linemates. I guess we’ll call them interesting.
Pens are having a full morning skate after a day off yesterday. Here is the workflow:— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) January 24, 2021
Jason Zucker had arguably his worst game in a Pens jersey on Friday, his first game with no shot attempts. Seeing him get demoted isn’t unexpected. Jared McCann scored a goal to break a 29-game goal-less streak, even though it was a fluky goal on the power play that a Ranger player literally tossed into his own net. This could be an effort to try and build confidence for McCann, who can be a streaky scorer.
Earlier in the week it was Rust who wasn’t playing well and temporarily parked on the third line. The coaches followed that up by quickly bringing him back to the Malkin line and Rust responded with an NHL early season high of 11 (!!) shots on goal and scoring his first goal of the season last game. It could be a similar mindset to attempt to bring out that type of response from Zucker, who has been fairly quiet at the start of the season with a quick demotion from Malkin, to be followed up by a chance to regain the normal spot, to see if Zucker can bounce back as emphatically as Rust did.
The team has been slowly bringing alone Kasperi Kapanen, managing his minutes and not putting him in too deep to play against the tough competition he would see on the Crosby line while Kapanen rounds into full game shape. After two games and a few practices, it is a bit disappointing to see them continuing to slow play his advancement up the lines, but at least there is a tangible step here off of the fourth line for Kapanen.
And really, the third line could be sneaky good; Teddy Blueger has four points in five games to start the season and has been a nice source of offense. Zucker and Kapanen are top-six quality wingers on both of his sides. This line could generate some offense, and really it is going to need to do so.
The Brandon Tanev + Mark Jankowski combination has worked out nicely, so it’s nice to see them remain together and quietly Colton Sceviour has been just fine as a fourth line player.
Evan Rodrigues on the top line still? ...Yeah, I guess that’s how he’s going to handle it one more time. Until the team is willing to turn Kapanen loose that is pretty much the only choice they have for a third wheel for the Guentzel-Crosby line.