CRANBERRY — The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to try to get some different outcomes during the three-game road trip that begins Saturday in San Jose, and they might try to make it happen with a minor change in their personnel combinations.
During a 55-minute practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex Thursday, coach Mike Sullivan largely stuck with the same forward lines and defense pairings deployed most of the time during their current 1-5 skid, but there was one intriguing wrinkle: Vinnie Hinostroza, a healthy scratch since being recalled from the American Hockey League appeared to replace Jeff Carter on the fourth line, rather than serving as an eighth defenseman, as he had in previous workouts.
Even more noteworthy is that Hinostroza subsequently got work on the No. 2 second power play and Carter, a regular on that unit for most of this season, did not.
Carter got work as a penalty-killer and, at times, was alongside P.O Joseph on a fourth defense pairing, Hinostroza’s old niche.
Here are the personnel combinations used during the first drill in which they were relevant:
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust
Reilly Smith-Evgeni Malkin-Rickard Rakell
Drew O’Connor-Lars Eller-Radim Zohorna
Matt Nieto-Noel Acciari-Vinnie Hinostroza/Jeff Carter
Ryan Graves-Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson-Erik Karlsson
Ryan Shea-Chad Ruhwedel
(Spare: P.O Joseph)
During practice Tuesday, Sullivan flipped Smith and O’Connor for at least one drill, but they were back in their usual spots Thursday.
No. 1 power play: Crosby, Malkin, Karlsson, Rakell, Guentzel. (Smith later replaced Rakell, who dropped to the second unit.)
No. 2 power play: Letang, Rust, Zohorna, Smith, Hinostroza,
The workout began with a session on the second sheet of ice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, and appeared to focus on skills.
Assistant coach Ty Hennes oversaw that portion of the practice, with the rest of Sullivan’s staff observing.
Four players — Marcus Pettersson, Lars Eller, Erik Karlsson and Ryan Graves — wore neck guards designed to reduce the chances of them being injured by an errant skate.
The Penguins have mandated that players on their farm teams in Wilkes-Barre and Wheeling wear those during practices and games, but are not permitted to make such equipment mandatory in the NHL.
Pysyk joins Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Defenseman Mark Pysyk, who was injured while attending the Pittsburgh Penguins’ training camp on a professional tryout agreement, has accepted a PTO deal with their farm team in Wilkes-Barre.
Pysyk, 31, has appeared in 521 NHL games with Buffalo, Florida and Dallas, putting up 28 goals and 26 assists,
He was a first-round draft choice of the Sabres in 2010.