(He's #23 now, but Chris Conner's trying to land on line #3 this preseason)
There's a simple reason why Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma and his staff are forcing down Goody's Headache Powder as they make a decision about the third line: it's darn important. Yup, it's deja vu but after two preseason games, there are more strong candidates for the third forward unit than there are write-offs. It's a spectacular problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.
A decent third line should be at the very least physical, while a good third line is both physical and has occasional offensive productive. A great third line is physical, consistently productive, and gives a team a boost when needed. That's what Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy, and Matt Cooke did and that's what the new trio needs to do.
Brandon Sutter's locked in at center and Jussi Jokinen should be one of the wings. That leaves one spot open and six guys (maximum) vying for it. Dan Bylsma's hoping the next two games will thin the crowd. Well, maybe 'hoping' is too soft a word. Someone's got to make a definitive case for that spot, right?
Chuck Kobasew- He's making the most out of his tryout. Kobasew scored two goals against Columbus Sunday and looked good along the boards. But his career numbers tell the tale of a fourth line guy, but his play was more a that-was-then-this-is-now thing. More of the story will be told Thursday against Chicago.
Tom Kuhnhackl- Whenever he walks down the street, he's turning heads. He assisted on both Kobasew goals Sunday and did it from the blue paint in front of the net. Grit and finesse are a mouthwatering combo, and his laser wristshot adds to the package. But Kuhnhackl's young and needs more grooming. He'll likely be sent to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but don't expect him to stay there long.
Chris Conner- He got the assist on the Brandon Sutter goal against Detroit and his grinding style of play complimented Jokinen's flowing style. Their line looked the best against the Red Wings and a part of that was their balance. Conner's hungry and has a chip on his shoulder. He'll be one to watch.
Matt D'Agostini- Pens fans haven't seen him play yet (that whole 'wife's giving birth to our child thing'), so it's hard not to say he's a step back. D'Agostini is a six-year NHL vet and that puts him in the lead of this race. The Penguins are hoping he returns to his 2010-2011 form of 21 goals and 25 assists. He'll be in uniform Thursday.
Dustin Jeffrey- Again, 2012-2013 is a make-or-break season for Dustin Jeffrey. He scored against Columbus and everyone's wondering whether he'll be the guy the Pens brass thinks he is. Regular playing time with two other skilled guys might help.
Jayson Megna- The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native was all over the ice and anyone wearing a red and white jersey Monday night. Megna looked great in both zones, showing off his speed and puck retrieval. Like Kuhnhackl, his age is his biggest knock and a little seasoning in the AHL might be needed.
Coach Bylsma knows how hard this decision is, saying, "There are people in Games 1 and 2 that showed with their opportunity and earned another game in the next two games that we have. Chris Conner was one of those guys, Chuck Kobasew is a guy that really stepped forward with his opportunity, Dustin Jeffrey had a very good game (Sunday vs. Columbus) in that game."
Good luck, Disco Dan.
Your man cave is your home field advantage for every game. When the game is on the line, you should be able to look around and be reminded of the great moments you've watched unfold in that very room! MJR Sports Integrity offers a wide range or team and player-specific memorabilia that can do just that and take your game day room to the next level. Find your inspiration at MJR Sports Integrity and will your team to victory!
- Pittsburgh Penguins Training Camp Questions: the Third Line
- Pittsburgh Penguins Fall to Columbus 5-4 in OT; Kuhnhackl, Kobasew Impress
- Pittsburgh Penguins Lose to Detroit Red Wings 4-1; Roster Moves Made After Game
- Beau Bennett Set for Big Season with Pittsburgh Penguins
- Feisty Crowd Yesterday Has Pittsburgh Penguins Ready for Tonight’s Preseason Opener
Short URL: http://sport-ne.ws/10yh