DETROIT – The Penguins have shuffled their lines for two reasons.
First, head coach Michel Therrien wanted to create different matchups against the Detroit Red Wings for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Second, he wanted to ignite a spark among the Penguins, who were shut out, 4-0, in Game 1.
On Sunday, Ryan Malone skated on the first line with Sidney Crosby and Marian Hossa. Maxime Talbot moved to the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora. Pascal Dupuis dropped to the third line with Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy. Gary Roberts took Georges Laraque’s spot on the fourth line with Adam Hall and Jarkko Ruutu.
“We’ve got to make adjustments. And that's part – every team has to make adjustments through the course of the playoffs. And we believe those adjustments are going to help us to get success,” Therrien said. “One thing that’s important for us, with the adjustment we made, there’s combination with the players. We want to keep those combinations. Like we’re talking about Crosby, Hossa and Malkin, Sykora. And we like Staal and Kennedy together. So, when you evaluate the other team, this is where you have to make some adjustment, we believe. Ryan Malone could be a good fit to play against their top line.
“With Talbot, I like his grit. I like his speed. He’s a guy that likes to pursue the puck, to create turnovers. So I believe it could be a good fit. We would like to have had a better result [Friday]. I didn’t think we played a good game. And the Red Wings played really well. I mean, in time I believe we could play a lot better,” he continued. “We’ve proven in the past, after a fair performance, we always bounce back. This is what I’m expecting from that team. And we addressed it with the players before the practice. And it was important to make sure we got the right attitude [Sunday]. I thought our guys were sharp during practice. So we’re going to try to bring that to the game [Monday].”
The Penguins weren’t surprised to see the lines shuffled. They have played in different spots throughout the season, although this was the first major change in the postseason.
“We’ve done it a lot all season, so I don’t think it’s a huge deal,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “I think nobody’s role changes when they change lines. I think everyone is expected to do the same thing. It’s just different looks and sometimes it depends on who Coach wants to play certain lines against and how they match up. So that’s just basically a decision to make sure everything’s evened out.
“I don’t think it’s desperation. Like I said, it’s matchups,” he continued. “I don’t think we’ve had to match up our lines as far as the different tandems that the other teams play against us or defensive pairings and stuff like that. For the most part, we’ve had to play against, with one of our lines, probably one really strong pairing, and then it’s kind of tailed off after that. It’s a little different with this team. So it all comes down to matchups.”
Jordan Staal agrees. “We need a better effort. We know we didn’t play our best [Saturday] and a little shakeup might give us the edge we need. In the third, I think we started creating some chances. We just started skating, really. After that, we really saw we could play with these guys and hopefully we can get that right off the bat for the whole 60 minutes. We have to keep it simple. We turned a lot of pucks over and gave them a lot of opportunities back in our end. They have a great transition and we know that. We just have to keep it simple and put the puck behind their defensemen.”
Roberts will see his first action of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday. He was scratched in Game 1.
“He’s going to bring physical presence and experience, too. But, he’s a guy that can go out there and really give you momentum with a big hit or creating that energy that you need sometimes,” Crosby said. “So, I think when he’s out there, every guy on the ice knows it. He’s someone that’s going to bring a lot of energy for us.”