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Penguins Practice: Kapanen Gets A Look On The Third Line

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Kaperi Kapanen
Kasperi Kapanen

After three straight losses, the Pittsburgh Penguins apparently could be considering changes in their forward lines for a game Saturday against the Canucks in Vancouver. Specifically noteworthy was winger Kasperi Kapanen moving down to the third line for part of their practice session.

The Penguins practiced Friday evening, Eastern time, in Vancouver.

Kapanen has five goals, 14 points in 23 games this season, but he has seemed ineffective on the second line with Jason Zucker and Jeff Carter lately, with one goal in his past 10 games.

According to multiple reports from Vancouver, the Penguins’ top line combination of Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Evan Rodrigues remained the same. The bottom three lines at first looked like this:

Jason Zucker-Jeff Carter-Danton Heinen

Drew O’Connor-Teddy Blueger-Kasperi Kapanen

Zach Aston-Reese–Sam Lafferty-Dominik Simon

Later, the Zucker-Carter-Kapanen line was reunited, with the bottom two lines consisting of Brock McGinn-Blueger-Heinen and Aston-Reese–O’Connor-Simon.

Whether that is the coaching staff’s way of keeping people guessing or taking a long look at new lines remains to be seen.

“We’re just trying to find more balance among the forwards so we can generate more offense throughout the lineup,” coach Mike Sullivan said after practice.

Sullivan said Kapanen “needs to play his game. His speed is such an important aspect of his game. I think he’s got to challenge our opponents all over the rink with his speed. When he does that, I think he’s a very dangerous player. He tends to look to pass the puck a little bit more than we’d like. We’d like to see him shoot more often. He’s got a really good shot. And then just — and Kappy and I have had this conversation — creating offense in different ways.”

Most recently, the Penguins lost Wednesday at Edmonton as they make their way across Western Canada. Vancouver, at 8-14-2, should not be as imposing an opponent as Conor McDavid and the Oilers, or Calgary, which topped the Penguins Monday.

Still, it would seem the Penguins will need to find some scoring pop and rely a little less on goaltender Tristan Jarry to break out of their losing streak and start piling up some points.

All expected players were on the ice in Vancouver, but it doesn’t appear that center Brian Boyle is poised to return from injury. He has been listed as day to day.

Center Evgeni Malkin again practiced, again in a non-contact jersey, as he keeps moving toward a return from offseason knee surgery.

 

 

 

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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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Frank
Frank
1 month ago

Shuffling lines is the only option that the team has now. There is little to nothing in W-B. I can’t see an impact trade considering the current circumstances. They have to hope something works by changing lines. That Malkin returns around 1/1 AND is effective. That Jarry can stay close to his current level of play. And other forwards start shouldering some goal scoring. Yup . . . an awful to hope for. If nothing else at least the “window” fantasy seems to have been put up on the shelf.

J.T. Nelson
J.T. Nelson
1 month ago

Here’s an option, reunite Erod with Kappy and Zuck. They were lights out prior to Crosbys return, so naturally Sullivan breaks them up.

Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
1 month ago
Reply to  J.T. Nelson

Absolutely!

Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
1 month ago

Put E Rod in the center of Zuck and Kap. Good line. Put Carter on Sid’s wing.
Also, lets be honest, Sid is not Sid. He looks S-L-O-W. Doesn’t have the energy of 59 or 9.

J.T. Nelson
J.T. Nelson
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Hoffman

I’d give Heinen a look with Sid. I’m not convinced Carter can or should handle top six minutes anymore. Either way, Erod needs to center Zuck and Kap.

Steve
Steve(@steve)
1 month ago

Is that right? O’Connor—Blueger—Kapanen? O’Connor over McGinn? Surely they aren’t considering scratching McGinn. Is that a typo?

C Daniel
C Daniel
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

I think Dave Molinari said McGinn was with Malkin and Boyle at one point. Just part of giving them good practice presumably. Otherwise he was with Teddy.

Joanne
Joanne
1 month ago

ZAR, Teddy and McGinn should stay together….they have been a solid line.

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