Say this much for Dan Bylsma, he’s all in.
The lineup changes he’s making for Game 5 against the New York Islanders are aggressive (assuming the Penguins’ lineup coincides with how it was reportedly configured for the game-day practice/skate).
We’ll find out soon enough regarding their effectiveness.
In order to avoid being accused of second-guessing, a little analysis before the fact is in order:
THUMBS UP: To replacing Marc-Andre Fleury with Tomas Vokoun in goal. The Pens’ problems go beyond Fleury, but Vokoun is a viable alternative brought aboard for just such
THUMBS DOWN: To a fourth line of Joe Vitale between Craig Adams and Tyler Kennedy.
Assuming Jussi Jokinen is healthy (he only played 7:29 in Game 4 so he might not be that) a fourth line of Adams, Jokinen and Beau Bennett makes more sense.
Jokinen, in addition to being the Pens’ best face-off man in the series (64.9 percent), is capable of moving up to a Top 6 position in a pinch.
Who’s going to do that now if Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby goes down, Vitale?
And part of the beauty of Bennett was he could help comprise a fourth line that was considered a match-up problem in the event Bylsma wanted to double-shift Malkin
Kennedy’s presence with Crosby or Malkin and Adams in such a scenario won’t provide the same potential combustibility.
THUMBS DOWN: To Simon Despres replacing Mark Eaton.
Despres has great upside and has a good chance of enjoying a long, productive career with the Penguins eventually. But his Game 3 was an absolute disaster.
It’s a tremendous leap of faith to go back to him now with so much at stake.
If Eaton needs a breather, Deryk Engelland would be a better option.
THUMBS UP: To starting Game 5 with a third line of Brandon Sutter between Brenden Morrow and Matt Cooke.
The Pens got away from this unit too quickly.
They’re supposed to be hard to play against and capable of grinding opponents down throughout the course of a series. Let them be that.