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Penguins Morning Skate: Fourth line Revamped, With Boyle Out, Simon In



Dominik Simon
Dominik Simon appears to be back in the lineup.

The Pittsburgh Penguins showed a different configuration of their fourth line Tuesday at their morning skate at PPG Paints Arena. Brian Boyle, the fourth-line center pretty much all season, was replaced by Evan Rodrigues, with Dominik Simon moving to the right wing.

Simon has been a healthy scratch the past five games.

Danton Heinen served as the left winger on that line.

That could be the look the Penguins use Tuesday night when they host the Buffalo Sabres. That game precedes a three-game road trip.

Boyle seemed like a shoo-in to make the team and earn a contract after he attended training camp on a professional tryout basis. His play has waned a little in recent games. He has two goals, no points in 14 games, but his two goals came in the first five games. Boyle also has been one of the Penguins’ regular penalty killers.

Simon has a goal and three assists in eight games. He has played just once in the past seven games.

The Penguins have been floundering, 2-5-2 in their past nine games. While many of those games were played with various skaters out because of injury or, primarily, COVID-19, the team still got clobbered Saturday at Washington 6-1 despite having not only Sidney Crosby and coach Mike Sullivan back, but also everyone not named Evgeni Malkin.

Malkin, who is coming off knee surgery and expected to return in December, apparently did not skate before the team, leading to a little bit of a question of whether he might make an appearance with his teammates in a non-contact role. But that did not happen.

The top three lines looked like this:

Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust

Jason Zucker-Jeff Carter-Kasperi Kapanen

Zach Aston-Reese–Teddy Blueger-Brock McGinn

(Sam Lafferty)

The defense pairings:

Brian Dumouln-Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson-John Marino

Mike Matheson-Chad Ruhwedel

(Mark Friedman)

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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

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Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker (@rob71)
20 days ago

Not sure that taking Boyle out of the lineup will help, but at least he is trying something different.

Jay95 (@jay95)
19 days ago

Definitely. I like the idea of having 4 lines that can score. I mean, that 4th line has a ton of offensive output. And, while I don’t like benching Boyle, it’s obvious that this is about keeping Rodriguez at center where he’s soooo much better.

Steve (@steve)
20 days ago

I wouldn’t read too much into this. Yes, the Pens want to be bigger and more physical, but no one really expected Boyle to play all 82 games. Situational shuffling of the lineup makes sense, and it’s not like Simon totally played his way out of the lineup. So let him get in against Buffalo. Only risk here is undermining the PK by taking Boyle out; so far, the PK is the biggest bright spot on the team (though it has also shown some cracks in the past two games).

Katz (@paul)
20 days ago

Something about shuffling the chairs on the titanic . Really nothingness here.

J.T. Nelson
J.T. Nelson
20 days ago

Taking Boyle out of the lineup, while ok with me, Doesn’t move the needle enough. I’m not sure why they would break up the Zucker,Erod,Kapanen line. Their numbers were crazy good together and they were driving this team. Yes Crosby came back into the line up, bumping Jeff Carter down, but don’t change what was working. Pens also need a Goalie to steal them a game or two and they currently don’t have one on the roster. That is a problem that’s not going to change, even when the team is healthy.

Last edited 20 days ago by J.T. Nelson
20 days ago
Reply to  J.T. Nelson

No kidding about your comment on the goalie. Could not agree more.

19 days ago
Reply to  J.T. Nelson

I agree, ERod was playing well with Zuck and Kappy- they need to reunited. Carter can move to wing if need be. Also giving an over 30 guy the night off may benefit the team in the long run.

Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
20 days ago

Boyle skates like he is stuck in concrete. Great story, not a good player. This move is 9 games over due.

Ethan Kelley
20 days ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

Agree. Not so much about the concrete thing but the overdue part. Get Sam in the lineup ASAP as well. Need new energy else they will all be swimming with the fishes and not in a good Penguiny way but a bottom-feeding concrete tied to your feet way

Ujn Hunter
20 days ago

Makes sense to try and put ERod back in the middle with some decent wingers… I like it. Hope it works out.

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