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E-Rod, You’re Up; ‘Trying to Stay Positive,’ Penguins Need Middle Spark (+)

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Pittsburgh Penguins Evan Rodrigues

The Pittsburgh Penguins lines weren’t exactly in a blender on Wednesday, but head coach Mike Sullivan was clear that his team needs more than the recent offensive output and sustained zone pressure. So, it appears Evan Rodrigues will return to center stage on Thursday night in Toronto.

Sidney Crosby and his line, usually with Bryan Rust and Jake Guentzel has been involved in about 40% of the Penguins offense over the past three months since Crosby returned from wrist surgery and COVID. Over the past four games, Brian Boyle and the Penguins’ fourth line has also contributed at least a goal per game.

And what of the middle six?

…crickets…

Three goals in the last four games, and two of those were by Danton Heinen on one shift against the Boston Bruins. Not to discount one impressive shift, but Sullivan is looking for sustained pressure.

Wednesday, Sullivan swapped his second and third lines. It appears Evan Rodrigues will play center with Kasperi Kapanen and Brock McGinn, while Jeff Carter will elevate to play on the left side of Evgeni Malkin with Danton Heinen on the right.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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