My thoughts on the Pens line combinations

Here are the forward lines that Mike Sullivan deployed at today's morning skate:





I'm actually in favor of splitting up Malkin and Kessel. Neither one of them has held up in their own end over the last few contests. Making each one of them the offensive focal point on a line makes a lot of sense to me. Especially considering how the 3rd line has been thoroughly dominated in this series. 

Here's what I would do:





Conner Sheary has been a nightmare in these playoffs, which is one of the reasons that the third line has been dominated. I trust that getting back together with Sid (and the other kid) may give him a little bit of a boost. I am not fond of taking Guentzel off of Crosby's wing. Guentzel leads the playoffs in goals, so I wouldn't break that up. It wasn't too long ago that this line was the most productive in hockey. 

Going back to the HBK line may strike some as a desperation move. But Phil Kessel can be the go-to guy without really having any defensive responsibilities. When on a line with Malkin, you've got two players who aren't always as concerned about making the smart play. Both Bonino and Hagelin can cover for Kessels missteps just as Rust and Hornqvist can for Malkin. 

I would like to see more minutes for the 4th line in game number 6. In Saturday's game 5, Chris Kunitz only played 9:25. Tom Kunhackle and Matt Cullen are both important penalty killers, so each played about three minutes more than Kunitz. Ideally, each of them would average around 12 minutes tonight. Tom Kunhackle has been outstanding this series, and Matt Cullen scored a big time short handed goal in game 2. 

Image courtesy of Getty Images


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