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PHN Blog: Analyzing Penguins Lineup with Tanev



PITTSBURGH, PA - FEBRUARY 01: Jake Guentzel #59 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with Sidney Crosby #87 after scoring a goal in the first period during the game against the Ottawa Senators at PPG PAINTS Arena on February 1, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire)

The Pittsburgh Penguins added youth, speed, grittiness, and 14 goals to their lineup Monday but had to dish a six-year contract to Brandon Tanev to do it. While the Twitter machine melted because of course, it did, the Penguins added an intriguing piece to their lineup, a fierce penalty killer and a winger who adds fire to a lineup which gave up in Round One against the New York Islanders.

You remember the Islanders, right? The team without much star power which plastered the Penguins using tenacious, gritty players.

Saturday, the Penguins added Alex Galchenyuk as they lost Phil Kessel. With Tanev, the Penguins lineup is beginning to take shape even as GM Jim Rutherford all but tipped his hand for additional moves.

For this lineup, we’ll assume the Penguins do not move Bryan Rust, even though he is one of two prime candidates to move. Rust and one of Jack Johnson or Justin Schultz seemed likely. If Rust stays, Dominik Simon and Dominik Kahun could fight for lineup spots with Zach Aston-Reese, too. Without Rust, all three would presumably be lineup fixtures.

Unless one of the rookies like Sam Poulin or Nathan Legare barge into the NHL bright lights.

A little tidbit, too. Pittsburgh Hockey Now has been told players are nervous and wondering what comes next. Some weren’t thrilled with the Kessel trade. Take it for what it’s worth.

With Tanev’s speed, jam, and presumed puck retrieval ability, the Penguins could create a monster line. I mean an angry, hungry, thumping monster line if they put Tanev and Hornqvist on the same line; whether they put the pair with Evgeni Malkin or Nick Bjugstad, there is potential for dominant puck possession and physical dominance.

Penguins Lineup:




RedBeard's Pittsburgh


For now, we’ve listed Tanev and Hornqvist on different lines for balance. For those of us who believe speed with physicality is a winning combination, it’s scary to think Tanev-Bjugstad-Hornqvist could do. For sure, their goal differential would be fantastic.

Perhaps in the screaming of social media, you missed the level headed analysis of Tanev, Monday. Here’s the primer: He is fast, relentless, dished 278 hits last season, scored 14 goals including a pair of shorthanded tallies, and is an aggressive defender.

Galchenyuk should add some offense on the left side, but his defensive awareness bears observation. Sullivan can slip him on the second line with Malkin or make Galchenyuk the offensive punch on the third line with Bjugstad. And put Tanev on the other line. Either way, it works.

However, the Penguins right wing is still a dicey proposition. Beyond Hornqvist, the right side lacks scoring. We flipped Guentzel to the right side because the Penguins needed pop on that side and because it creates prime space for Jared McCann.

Before I laid out the lines, I considered the Penguins lineup to be subpar, but after taking a look at one potential setup, the Penguins will be hard to play against, they will be FAST, and it will be tough for opponents to score. The Penguins won’t have to score five goals per game to win. They will win games 3-1.

In addition to a potentially aggressive middle line, the Penguins fourth line could be a special unit, too. Rust and Aston-Reese could each add 30 points from that spot as they defend the opponent’s top line.

And if the Penguins deal Rust, they’ll lose a valuable swiss army knife but their lineup will not be as impacted as it would have been just a few days ago.

Tanev has not had great advanced stats in the last two seasons–he’s bubbled around 50% and 48% Corsi but he also started 59% of his shifts in the defensive zone. That’s staggering. On an offensive team, perhaps in a more offensive role, Tanev could explode, or more likely, he could help others explode much like Carl Hagelin did for Malkin and Nick Bonino.

When you lay it all out and can see it–Believe it or not, the Penguins are better. It’s not a traditional Penguins squad. It’s more like the Columbus or New York Islanders teams but with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the middle.

Choose hysteria if you like. Or take a look at the above. I’ll tell you when things aren’t right, such as with Tanner Pearson and at the end of the Derick Brassard era. And I’ll tell you why things aren’t right, such as the beginning of the Jack Johnson era.

If you open yourself to enjoying it, these Penguins could be a hammering good time.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.



  1. Rick

    July 2, 2019 at 7:52 am

    Couldn’t agree more with your article Dan. All the twitter/message board clamoring about what a buffoon GMJR is. The team as it was forced his hand, CHANGE HAD TO TAKE PLACE. Also, for every imbecile who screeches, WHERE IS THAT POINT PER GAME GOING TO COME FROM, after the PK trade. I’ll tell you EXACTLY where it’s going to come from. It’s going to come from a much more defensively sound team and a goaltender poised to have a monster year! That’s where. A team with SC, EM and yes, even KL is going to score goals, that’s the least of my concerns. My concern was a team that didn’t forecheck hard or effectively, those concerns are for now starting to get alleviated. I’m still concerned about our D, But the team only has so much money to spend, and there are only so many trades that are out there. Do I want to see JJ gone? In a NY minute! But if it doesn’t happen, oh well. His 2nd half last year wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t live with him this year if he plays like that or better.

    I was watching the NHL Network last night (I don’t know why, it’s a worthless piece of s*** network), but they put up a graphic showing Nashville’s projected line combinations. Kyle Turris is projected to be their 3rd line center. KT makes SIX MILLION DOLLARS! Nick Bonino is projected to be their 4th line center. NB makes FOUR MILLION ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS! Welcome to today’s NHL folks! I then went to one of Nashville’s message boards. Not one complaint about how much they’re paying bottom 6 players. Gee common sense coming from an emerging hockey market, and lunacy coming from a so called established so called intelligent hockey market, actually Pittsburgh has become a spoiled, entitled, DUMB hockey market. I can’t stand Mark Madden’s shtick, but he’s right about hockey fans in Pittsburgh.

    • Terrence

      July 2, 2019 at 8:29 am

      your comments are spot on and why does everyone get so caught up in the money guess what folks it’s not our money and in todaya free agent market this is whar the prices are ,i happen to love the signing he brings speed ,he’s tenacious he’s exactly what we all wanted so quit bitching everybody and welcome to the what players cost now a days

    • Dave

      July 2, 2019 at 9:07 am

      Nice post Rick….or should I say Lunatic Fringe?

  2. Ricardo58

    July 2, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Agree with the above posters. It is nice to visit a site with non-fanboy love articles. I appreciate the objectivity. I swear 81 either owns stock in the one particular Pens blog site or 81 is the main writer. Go Pens!

  3. Tom Buretz

    July 2, 2019 at 9:50 am

    This guy could replace Haglin in the lineup with more scoring punch younger and comes cheaper, a fast hard hitting penalty killer who goes after the puck in the corners, something the Pens desperately need.

  4. BIG B

    July 2, 2019 at 9:59 am

    When Malkin bounces back this team is going to score more than last year, talk all you want about Kessels point per game but he still only scored in the 20’s and the team has added 46 goals if my math is correct between Kahun, Tanev and Gally, Dan how dare you use facts and line combos when twitter will scream for PDO and bar charts and graphs which they don’t understand?

  5. HarkeyPuck

    July 2, 2019 at 10:36 am

    So glad I got rid of Twitter.

    Is Rust the only trade possibility? Is Bjugstad untouchable? Not that I don’t like the player but he does make $4mil and with Tanev, McCann & Blueger we have 3 guys that could center bottom 6 lines.

    • Zane Gearhart

      July 2, 2019 at 11:27 am

      Gally is also a center. Rust is one of the last players I hope gets traded. He’s too versatile, and 1 line combo Dan didn’t mention was Tanev on 3rd LW, with rust on 3rd RW, talk about an energy line. The biggest change to our team is we’ve diversified our scoring. Instead of being too heavy we now have 4 lines that can potentially have 30-40 point players throughout

      • Zach Smith

        July 2, 2019 at 11:48 am

        Galchenyuk’s confidence was ruined because Montreal & Arizona put him at center. He should be a winger full time.

      • Matt Luda

        July 2, 2019 at 12:20 pm

        I’ll raise you one — Tanev-McCann-Rust. Triple Yoi! Call it the HOW Line — Hell On Wheels.

      • Nathan

        July 2, 2019 at 1:15 pm

        I think rust will be traded to Edmonton for Puljujarvi. There have been rumors that Edmonton approached the Pens with the offer. Then the Pens sign a similar type player via free agency and bring in like 20 Fins to their development camp and AHL roster.

        • Dan Kingerski

          July 2, 2019 at 5:24 pm

          Yes, PHN was told before the draft (and reported) that discussion. The Penguins may be in a different position now.

  6. Zach Smith

    July 2, 2019 at 11:56 am

    What if we put trade Rust & then put Simon in his place?

  7. Matt Luda

    July 2, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    My updated early front nine . . .

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