Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma has been busy making minor tweaks to the Pens to try and bolster the squad by reacting to individual matchups and potential mismatches that one of hockey’s best coaches is striving to diagnose. Credit Bylsma with making the right adjustments to help close out the New York Islanders in the first round when the Penguins were locked up 2-2 with the Isles, and he made a few adjustments last night against the Ottawa Senators. Although Pittsburgh didn’t play their best game and ended up falling to the Sens 2-1 in double overtime, the adjustments did not negatively affect the team, and it would have been too-good-to-be-true for the Penguins to go up 3-o on the Senators. The Penguins are arguably the NHL’s top squad, but the Senators are no lightweights.
Defenseman Mark Eaton was back in Game 3 yesterday and was in for Deryk Engelland, who was a fixture next to Douglas Murray for the first two games of the conference semifinal’s series. Eaton missed the past four games, and he seems to be back in the lineup after receiving a solid amount of playing time through the first four games against New York. Was Eaton taken out because of the Pens’ struggles against the No. 8 seed? That’s an interesting one to ponder.
Tanner Glass is in the same boat as Eaton, although we know why he did play (due to an injury). Bylsma benched him after he played in the first four games of the Islanders series, and he was back in the lineup yesterday against the Sens. Glass replaced Joe Vitale (Vitale was injured) and played in nearly ten minutes yesterday.
Center Jussi Jokinen is a 30-year-old veteran who can play at either center or on the wing, and it has been a surprise to see him miss the last five games. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, we don’t know if Jokinen is injured or not, but I have a gut feeling that he’s injured. Jokinen is a good player (22 points in the regular season to prove it) and well-rounded overall, so it is tough to envision Bylsma outright benching him for five straight contests. If he’s healthy, I hope we see Jokinen getting some time on the ice in Game 4. It gets interesting with Jokinen, because he suffered a collision in Game 1 against the Islanders, but he was available to play in the next three games of the series. Did he suffer a setback or a new injury? Let’s hope we can get some answers on that.