Therrien’s moves make sense
The act of a desperate man, overreacting to one measly loss?
Some will view it that way.
And they will be wrong.
Based on the forward combinations seen at Sunday’s practice, Penguins coach Michel Therrien apparently will revamp every line for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final tonight.
The new combos:
• Ryan Malone-Sidney Crosby-Marian Hossa
• Maxime Talbot-Evgeni Malkin-Petr Sykora
• Pascal Dupuis-Jordan Staal-Tyler Kennedy
• Gary Roberts-Adam Hall-Jarkko Ruutu
Desperation is making sweeping changes when you’re down 3-0, the way the Flyers did. Therrien is being proactive, responding to an opponent that plays nothing like the Penguins’ previous three.
This is not the first time Therrien has been proactive in these playoffs. After sweeping Ottawa, he changed two of his defense pairs before Game 1 against New York.
“We have to make adjustments,” he said yesterday.
If I’m Therrien, I take the overhaul a bit further. I go back to the old defense pairings, which had an offensive presence on each, and alter the power play.
It really is time for the team’s best shooter – Malkin – to start shooting again, and that isn’t going to happen from the left point. Malkin is not comfortable there, for at least one obvious reason: He’s a left-handed shot, so his ability to unleash one-timers is nearly negated.
Malkin has only 10 shots (one goal) in the past five games. He has gone eight games without a power-play goal. Therrien and assistant coach Mike Yeo, who runs the power play, should put him back on the right side, preferably up front, around the circle, and use Ryan Whitney on the left point.
Doing so might give Malkin a confidence boost, which could extend to his even-strength game.
We’ve seen that sort of thing happen before.
When Alex Kovalev came to Pittsburgh, he refused to shoot and was a massive underachiever. Coach Kevin Constantine finally decided to put Kovalev on the right point on the power play and told him to fire away.
Kovalev never stopped. His confidence grew, and his career took off, providing evidence that how a player is used on the power play can extend to his overall game.
If the coaching staff insists on keeping Malkin at the left point, maybe Talbot’s speed can help jumpstart him at even-strength.
Therrien obviously saw in Game 1 what a lot of us saw: His team looked a step slow and was unable to convert glorious opportunities early on.
Malone, perhaps, can capitalize on some of the Crosby-generated chances that Dupuis struggled with.
Asked if he was upset about the change, Dupuis said, “Not at all. I’m all about winning.”
Roberts apparently will force Georges Laraque out of the lineup. Makes sense. The tempo of the series seems too fast for Laraque.
The Red Wings, of course, are so good that none of this might work. But I’d rather try to get ahead of the game then remain hopelessly behind it, the way the Penguins were for the latter two periods of Game 1.