With the Pittsburgh Penguins desperate for goals heading into tonight’s contest with the Anaheim Ducks, head coach Dan Bylsma will be shaking up his usual lines. The biggest benefactor appears to be rookie Beau Bennett, who will be skating alongside Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Bennett has been relegated to mostly bottom-six minutes since returning from injury on November 9.
Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported the shakeup this morning and quoted Bylsma about the line changes:
We’ve had two lines here through the last couple of years that have been one of the best lines in the game at different times. But sometimes a particular matchup is a fact. And (so is) where we’re at.
The Crosby-Kunitz-Pascal Dupuis connection has been more or less inseparable since the beginning of last year. The trio worked out together during the lockout and developed some outstanding chemistry. Pittsburgh is looking to shake up an offense that has only generated more than one goal once over its last five games though.
A 4-1 loss to the surging New Jersey Devils on Saturday night appears to have been the final straw for Bylsma. Crosby only has a single goal in his last five games. Evgeni Malkin hasn’t scored in that same span, while Dupuis has a single tally as well.
The biggest change will be for Bennett, who doesn’t typically play more than 13 minutes a game. He’s got first-round pedigree and has been a finisher at every level however, and Crosby has a tendency to bring the very best out of his right-handed wingers. This change could just be a one-game shakeup, or it could stick if the Penguins light up the Ducks this evening.