Connect with us

Penguins

Penguins ‘Exploring Options’: Pettersson, Kapanen Headline Shakeup

Published

on

Pittsburgh Penguins, jeff carter, kasperi kapanen

With losses come changes. The losses for the Pittsburgh Penguins stretch considerably back into last month, so the abundant changes in personnel deployment Tuesday were pretty much due.

“We’re trying to find some combinations that we think will work for us, and so we’re exploring different options,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Tuesday after the team practiced at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

With the losing skid at seven games (0-6-1) going into a game Wednesday against the rival Capitals in Washington, the Penguins shuffled pretty much all their combinations outside of the top two forward lines.

As in, those watching Wednesday could see a bona fide shakeup.

Two moves stood out: Marcus Pettersson moving up to the top defensive pairing alongside Kris Letang, and winger Kasperi Kapanen moving down to a fifth line, which could mean either a demotion from the third line or even a turn as a healthy scratch.

Pettersson had been skating primarily with Jeff Petry, but he seemed pumped to perhaps get a chance to line up next to Letang for a game.

“It’s a privilege to play with him. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Pettersson said. “He has such an offensive upside, and I know that. I just try to be steady next to him.”

It would seem to be a reward for Pettersson, who though it’s only been a month and despite the recent losses, appears to be having one of his best seasons.

“I think I’ve been playing well to start the year,” he said.

Letang would agree.

“He’s been playing really well this year,” he said of Pettersson. “He’s a good two-way player.”

One who is known more for his defensive side, which could be crucial alongside Letang. Pettersson said the key will be communication between the two, who have not spent a lot of time paired together over the years.

Petry’s new partner is P.O Joseph, with Dumoulin moving to a spot with Jan Rutta.

Petry also noted that “the communication has to be there” with a new partner.

Dumoulin, meanwhile, has been struggling some dating to last season – something Sullivan made reference to.

“We all have high expectations of ‘Dumo,” Sullivan said. “He’s a great player. He’s a great pro. He’s been a great Pittsburgh Penguin for a long time.

“There’s no doubt that I know that he’ll work through it.”

Rutta, asked about playing with Dumoulin, took a broad view first – “Hopefully in a winning way?” he quipped, adding, “That’s what we all want, right? In a losing streak, maybe just change a few things to get a better result.”

Among the forwards, the Penguins had enough players to go with five full lines at practice.

That included one where all three guys wore white jerseys: Sam Poulin, Teddy Blueger and Kapanen.

Blueger remains on LTIR, Poulin is a recent recall, and Kapanen has struggled offensively dating to last season. Sullivan, asked whether the trio wearing white jerseys indicated anything about their status, such illness or injury, said it was simply logistical with five lines.

“They all practiced in a full capacity,” Sullivan said, adding to some intrigue over Kapanen specifically.

Kapanen has played frequently on the third line with center Jeff Carter, who seems close to returning after missing the past three games because of an unspecified injury.

Carter sounded as if returning Wednesday is a possibility.

“I’m feeling good,” he said. “It was good to get back out in a full practice and get some line rushes and whatnot going.”

Carter, the senior member of the roster at 37, understands the reason for so many changes.

“You look at our stretch that we’re in right now, sometimes you have to mix things up a little bit and try and build some chemistry in different places,” Carter said. “Hopefully, we can do that (Wednesday).”

 

Subscribe to PHN+

Shelly is a columnist and reporter for Pittsburgh Hockey Now. She was a Penguins beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and remains a contributor to The Hockey News. Catch her on Twitter @_shellyanderson

11 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

11 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
PensFan
PensFan
26 days ago

Can Hextall be trusted to get it right? Some of his moves aren’t looking great, like McCann; Tanev; Kapanen; Marino; yes, Aston-Reese; arguably Rodrigues, not to mention players he could have signed but didn’t and the lean toward older players.

Rob
Rob
25 days ago
Reply to  PensFan

Never should’ve signed Kappy or at least for that much. Never would’ve traded for Petry either.Dumoulin has been an anchor for the Pens for years and has a lot of miles on his treads. Still respect the guy and will be surprised if they resign him. All you heard was trade Pettersson and now he’s one of the top defensemen.Also people dogged Joseph and he’s been playing good. Ruuta was the best signing and Rakell.

stan
26 days ago

Its like pulling names out of hat to make lines, can’t be any worse then the last 7 games..

Luke
Luke
26 days ago

“Hex”small has fundamentally transformed this team into a bottom dweller.
I guess he never forgot how the 90 Pens terrorized him and is now unraveling
this once yearly playoff team. What else can we as fans ( who have been watching
the Pens since 1975 are to conclude and surmise. He is terrible when it comes
to chemistry and a hockey sense. He should have never been hired as GM.

Bill Maloni
Bill Maloni
25 days ago
Reply to  Luke

I suspect the new Boston owners will can Hexy and Burke.

Rob
Rob
26 days ago

It’s a losing streak. People need to calm down. It will not last forever

Bill Maloni
Bill Maloni
25 days ago
Reply to  Rob

Rob–
Most fans are not confident in our goalies or our D. And the “O,” with 5 of the 12 not scoring much, doesn’t scare anyone.

Rob
Rob
25 days ago
Reply to  Bill Maloni

I wouldn’t say most fans. Only the few that want to over react and act like the sky is falling. This is the same team that was 4-0-1 at one point. Where were you chicken littles then? Act like you all have seen an 82 game NHL season before and know what a slump is. Colorado just won a cup and they aren’t doing too great either, i wonder if their fans want everyone fired and traded too. You all are allowed to have your opinions and i hope you agree to eat crow. Also, if you hate the penguins… Read more »

Kris
Kris
25 days ago
Reply to  Rob

Rob,
I have found that you are wasting your breath on these debbie downers. they only know the bad. They tell you the coach and GM suck and they would have done it differently. But they never give specifics around what Differently actually would have looked like.

Rob
Rob
25 days ago
Reply to  Kris

You are right, but sometimes i just can’t keep my mouth shut.

Ujn Hunter
25 days ago
Reply to  Bill Maloni

Most fans” (Read: Me, Myself, and I)