I don’t know if Penguins Coach Dan Byslma is a fan of my show.
But last night, at long last, Bylsma finally became a fan of the obvious and logical.
After starting Game 5 against the New York Islanders dispensing the same old chaos – two right wings on one line, two left wings on another line – Bylsma united the combinations that should have been implemented the minute Jarome Iginla arrived from Calgary: Sidney Crosby between Iginla and Pascal Dupuis, with Evgeni Malkin between James Neal and Chris Kunitz.
Just like I said it should be a month ago.
Only Dupuis has to switch wings, and he’s been doing that his whole career. Iginla and Neal play right wing, where each is most comfortable and effective. Malkin gets the linemates with whom he’s performed best. Crosby doesn’t, but Crosby plays well no matter who he’s out there with. He should have a bit of vestigial chemistry with Iginla from playing together in the 2010 Olympics.
Those lines did not light up the scoresheet. Crosby scored, but that was off a magnificent individual effort.
But after Bylsma put those trios together, the tide turned. The Islanders outplayed the Penguins until the moment Tyler Kennedy made it 1-0.
Both lines were on edge once they were united. Besides his frequent power-play excellence, it was the best Iginla has looked in a Penguins jersey. Neal was at ease with his touches, and Malkin had jump. Bodes well for Game 6.
There’s no goalie controversy. Maybe at the start of the second round, if the Penguins get there. But Tomas Vokoun plays the rest of this series.
Behold, Crosby’s reenactment of the Lemieux statue: