The Pittsburgh Penguins made sweeping changes to their lineup Thursday night against the Florida Panthers. They were looking for a spark and some chemistry. They began the game with two new defensive pairings and two new centers, but the big move–putting Nick Bjugstad on Sidney Crosby’s right wing–did not work and didn’t last beyond two periods as the Penguins lost to the Florida Panthers 3-2 in OT.
Some good, some bad. Some meh. Ok, lot’s of meh.
The Penguins were again lured into a free skate for portions of the game. The result was a 42-shot barrage on Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith.
Bjugstad was back to centering the Penguins second line by the start of the third period. His anticipated debut beside Crosby did not go well. We detailed the perils of that move early Thursday–read it here. The move lasted two periods as the top line generated only two shots on goal.
The Penguins demoted Tanner Pearson to the fourth line with new fourth line pivot Teddy Blueger. Blueger and Garrett Wilson had solid games, at least. Pearson continued to struggle. Pearson attempted one shot. More in the Report Card segment.
The Penguins also shuffled their defense pairings. Brian Dumoulin was put on the left side of Jack Johnson as the second pairing and Marcus Pettersson was placed with Kris Letang.
As a result, the first period was a jumbled mess. The Penguins had only six shots on goal and trailed 1-0, but should have trailed by several.
X’s and O’s
The Penguins used the wall to their advantage, beginning in the second period (just forget the first period). They began to play to their identity or at least the identity their coach is pushing them towards. The Penguins took controlled zone entries when available, but otherwise well utilized the soft chips off the midwall and pursued it with speed.