Home > NHL, Penguins, Uncategorized > What to do with Sid, Ctd.

What to do with Sid, Ctd.

The great Tommy H chimed in on the last post with the following:

“Staal as a winger to Sid is not a bad idea, but I don’t think you are going to see it. Having the best 3 center combination in the NHL goes a long way, and we really haven’t seen it since 2010. I also would rather keep Staal with Cooke and Sullivan as Cooke compliments Staal’s defensive strengths, and Sullivan provides them with a pass-first mentality who is confident with the puck (especially in the last 10 games). I think putting Dupuis with Sid and TK could work (and maybe Jeffery!), but things are going to have to be tweaked moving into the playoffs.”

Assuming this is the way it goes, your first three lines become:

Kunitz-Malkin-Neal
Dupuis-Crosby-Kennedy
Cooke-Staal-Sullivan

In this configuration the scoring by line to this point of the year looks like: line 1) 87 goals (ha), line 2) 23 goals, line 3) 46 goals; where in my world it goes:  line 1) 87 goals, line 2) 38goals, line 3) 22 goals. Sid’s presence on the second line in Tommy’s scenario theoretically would create three lines with at least one extremely difficult player to stop. Distributing the wealth.

But would it actually work this way?

When Sid was blowing up the league at the start of the ‘10-’11 season he had Chris Kunitz on his wing. Kunitz provided a measure of on-ice protection for Crosby as well as a physical net-front presence that gave goaltenders fits and required the attention of opposing defensemen (and he’s got pretty good hands to boot). Staal plays a less net-front style of game but his size and his newly-discovered ability to finish plays requires similar attention from defensemen.

I get concerned with the idea of Sid on a line with Dupuis and Kennedy because  they aren’t particularly physical and they do similar things (with the exception being Kennedy has been somewhat of a shift killer lately and Dupuis has been all over the place). Who throws the checks on this line? Who gets into the dirty areas? I don’t want to see a line where it’s Crosby’s primary job to grind along the boards trying to create opportunities for Kennedy so he can shoot the puck into the goaltender’s chest. (Plus, when was the last time you saw Kennedy set up ANYBODY for a goal?)

The idea of Jeffrey being on a line with Sid is something I can support experimenting with. Jeffrey has a couple inches and about 20 pounds on Kennedy and has shown flashes of being a really effective player, although he is consistently scratched in favor of Eric Tangradi for reasons that escape me. (FUN WITH NUMBERS: In the 17 games Tangradi has played this season the Penguins have won 13, including 11 straight; a span over which Tangradi’s line is 0G, 1A, -1, 10PIM and 11 shots. I don’t know what this means, but there it is.) Additionally, the idea that Jeffrey will crack the lineup with another healthy body taking up a roster spot doesn’t seem reasonable.

(Thiswill be another issue for Bylsma; who to scratch on a nightly basis. Park? Asham? Vitale? I would not want to make that decision.)

For me this all boils down to putting Sid in the best position to succeed while keeping Jordan Staal involved as a key component of the offense. It seems to me Staal has benefitted from Crosby’s absence by moving up to the second line and getting to play with more offensive-minded players. I think Staal on a line with Sid will take some pressure off Sid while allowing Staal to reap the benefits of playing alongside the world’s best player, and in the process it  creates another line that is incredibly difficult to defend against. Teams sell out against the Malkin unit, putting their checking line and top d-pairing out against them as often as possible. Lately that’s been working.  A Staal-Crosby-Dupuis line would put an end to all that.

The good news is there doesn’t seem to be a wrong answer to the question of what to do with Sid when he returns to play. Maybe Sid’s greatest attribute is the way he makes everybody he is on the ice with better, so it makes sense to believe that no matter where he ends up things will work out.

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