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Penguins vs Senators

Penguins likely to go to Jokinen for faceoff, PP ability

Wednesday, 05.22.2013 / 2:19 PM

By Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com / Penguins-Senators series blog

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Penguins likely to go to Jokinen for faceoff, PP ability

OTTAWA -- It would appear Jussi Jokinen will be back in the lineup for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma does not confirm his lineup decisions, but he did at least speak in hypothetical terms Wednesday morning about what Jokinen would bring to his lineup if he dressed.

"Jussi is a guy who's been out of our lineup and you're sitting on a guy who can make plays, score big goals, he's a faceoff guy," Bylsma said. "He's also a guy who would see time on our second power-play unit as well."

Jokinen spent a lot of time practicing on that second power-play unit at practice Tuesday, skating with Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis up front, with Jarome Iginla and Paul Martin on the points.

The Penguins have gone 1-for-12 on the power play in the past two games against Ottawa after going 9-for-25 over the first seven games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I think our power play has been great all year, regular season and playoffs," Jokinen said. "I think even last game we had pretty good chances, on the 5-on-3 [Evgeni Malkin] had a great chance, [Sidney Crosby] had a breakaway. I think we're doing lots of things right. Something we can do better is start to get more traffic on [Senators goalie Craig] Anderson and try to find those rebounds and bury those."

Jokinen hasn't exactly found it easy to sit out the past five games, but the first four of those were wins, so it wasn't easy for Bylsma to get him back in the lineup.

Coming off a 2-1 double-overtime loss in Game 3 in which the Penguins went 0-for-6 on the power play -- including one 5-on-3 and a power play in the second overtime -- makes the decision a bit easier for Bylsma. He also said Jokinen is particularly good on faceoffs in the left dot, an area of the ice where the Penguins have struggled to win draws.

Jokinen sympathized somewhat with the juggling Bylsma needs to do with such a talented lineup.

"We have 16 forwards and nine [defensemen] who all are really good NHL players and who could play every night on some other team," Jokinen said. "I'm sure we have a couple of guys on Wilkes-Barre [of the American Hockey League] as well. Obviously it's not an easy decision for the coach to make when you have so many good players."

Jokinen is not the only juggling ball Bylsma may have in the air for Game 4. Veteran forward Brenden Morrow left practice Tuesday early and did not participate in Wednesday morning's optional skate, but neither did Crosby, Malkin, Iginla, Dupuis, James Neal, Chris Kunitz and others. Bylsma would not address Morrow's availability for the game.

Forward Joe Vitale didn't play in Game 3 but skated Tuesday and Wednesday, making him a possibility to re-enter the lineup if Morrow is unable to go, or perhaps to replace someone else. Bylsma said he likes Vitale's speed and forechecking, and he adds another faceoff guy, though his strong side is the right side.

With the morning skate Wednesday being optional, here are the lines from practice Tuesday, with Morrow not included.

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis

James Neal - Evgeni Malkin - Jarome Iginla

Matt Cooke - Brandon Sutter - Tyler Kennedy

Tanner Glass - Jussi Jokinen - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin

Kris Letang - Matt Niskanen

Douglas Murray - Mark Eaton

Tomas Vokoun

Marc-Andre Fleury

Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players