Welcome to your new Pittsburgh Penguins lineup, at least for the next period of hockey. One day removed from the thundering news that All-Star winger Jake Guentzel will miss the rest of the season, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan took his first crack at assembling Penguins lines on Wednesday at practice.
Based on practice drills and the line units, Sullivan and the Penguins coaches chose the least disruptive path. They will simply elevate winger righ wing Alex Galchenyuk to the top line with Evgeni Malkin, but flip Galchenyuk to the left side.
The Penguins lines at practice were:
The Penguins drills often required defenders and so there wasn’t a firm fourth line, but Sam Lafferty, Joseph Blandisi and Dominik Kahun are the obvious choices.
“I feel definitely a little more comfortable with my game. But at the same time, you can’t judge chemistry after one practice,” Galchenyuk said. “We’ve got to go in games and keep rolling.”
This season, Galchenyuk has admittedly struggled but has two goals in his last three games. Overall, Galchenyuk has 13 points (4g, 9a) in 30 games. The forward had a full training camp but missed most of the first five weeks of the season after suffering an injury in the first few games of the season. It wasn’t the ideal start for player on a new team.
“Definitely with the system, it’s (all right), but I’m still working on a couple of things with the game, like everyone else,” Galchenyuk responded to PHN. “I know the system pretty well now and it’s nothing new to me.”
The Penguins could use the best version of Galchenyuk. Guentzel leaves a statistical hole which includes a 40-goal pace and a consistent presence. Guentzel earned his All-Star selection and was the Penguins leading scorer. Should Galchenyuk emerge from his shadow, he scored 19 goals last season and lack of talent has never been a knock
“Alex is a good player,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’re trying to put him in positions to play to his strengths and be successful. And given the circumstances we’re under right now, it’s a great opportunity for Alex.”
Pittsburgh Penguins Odds and Ends:
Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese is a graphics designer of some talent. PHN had a pressing question for the winger. If he were to design a crest of logo for the first half of the season, what would it look like?
Aston-Reese chuckled at the idea, then grabbed his hockey pants with the Penguins logo.
“Maybe just wrap a little bandage around (the Penguin’s) arm…or around his neck,” he said.
Tristan Jarry leads the NHL in save percentage (.938) and goals against average (1.88). Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo suffered a controversial injury in a shootout earlier this week. Korpisalo was one of two goalies selected for the Metro Division squad but will likely miss the NHL All-Star Game. Has Jarry considered he is a candidate?
“…..no,” he said softly.
Jarry just shook his head. He barely offered the no. The goalie has made every effort to downplay his situation this season, to deflect his success and be humble about that success. Sometimes it makes for a difficult media interaction, but the kid is doing everything the Pittsburgh Penguins asked of him including presenting a steady presence.